1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Rays sign on to SCOTUS brief backing LGBTQ rights

The team, which also owns the Rowdies, joins major corporations supporting a ban on workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Groundskeepers sprayed a rainbow Rays logo on the mound before the Rays Pride Night game last month. The team signed an amicus brief in support of the LGBTQ community on Tuesday. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Groundskeepers sprayed a rainbow Rays logo on the mound before the Rays Pride Night game last month. The team signed an amicus brief in support of the LGBTQ community on Tuesday. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Jul. 2, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays joined more than 200 major American corporations signing on to an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting workplace rights for the LGBTQ community.

The landmark brief calls for the court to rule that current federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. A coalition of five human rights groups submitted the brief this week ahead of oral arguments the justices will hear on Oct. 8 regarding three cases involving the issue.

Proponents argue that the current Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in the workplace, at schools, in healthcare and housing on the basis of race, religion and sex, should be interpreted to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Rays, who also own the Rowdies, joined a list of companies in support of the brief that includes Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Starbucks, Viacom, the Walt Disney Co. and Xerox. Their inclusion, however, stands out because only one other sports team signed the brief: the San Francisco Giants.

“Signing the brief was not only the right thing to do, but is also best for our business,” said Brian Auld, Rays president and Rowdies vice chair. “We encourage other sports teams and organizations to support this protection for fans, employees and their families.”

The brief was first presented to the Rays and Rowdies by Athlete Ally, a non-profit organization working to end homophobia and transphobia in sport. The coalition of civil rights organizations also included the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, Out Leadership, Out and Equal and Freedom for All Americans.

“At this critical moment in the fight for LGBTQ equality, these leading businesses are sending a clear message to the Supreme Court that LGBTQ people should, like their fellow Americans, continue to be protected from discrimination,” said Jay Brown, senior vice president for programs, research and training for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Jay Brown.

“With so much progress on the line, we are grateful that so many major American companies are standing up for the rights and dignity of their LGBTQ employees, family members and customers.”

The question now is whether the Supreme Court will follow suit, given its conservative majority strengthened by President Donald Trump's appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The three cases are the court's first on LGBTQ rights since the retirement last year of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored landmark gay rights opinions.

The Obama administration had supported treating LGBTQ discrimination claims as sex discrimination, but the Trump administration has changed course. The Trump Justice Department has argued that the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not intended to provide protections to gay or transgender workers.

The companies signing the brief represent more than 7 million employees and $5 trillion in annual revenue, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Times wires were used in this report. Contact Ernest Hooper at Follow @hoop4you.


  1. Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the ​U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) [PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP]
    It’s also the first visit by any Democratic contender this year
  2. Jimmy Patronis had been appointed to the state’s Public Service Commission by Gov. Scott.
    FDLE cited a ‘potential conflict,’ Leon County State Attorney Jack Campbell said.
  3. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  4. Florida House Speaker José Oliva made hospital deregulation one of his top priorities. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Speaker José Oliva slammed pharmaceutical companies in his opening day speech, but a bill to place $100 caps on co-payments for insulin will not pass this year. In fact, it won’t even get a hearing.
  5. The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Judge Renatha Francis has not been a member of the Florida Bar for 10 years.
  6. State Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, speaks before volunteers with the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action outside the Florida Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. [[LAWRENCE MOWER | Tampa Bay Times]]
    Like it has since the Parkland massacre, the gun debate is growing fierce in Tallahassee. But there are some significant changes this year.
  7. West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James talks with his Director of Communications Kathleen Walter while going over the state of the city address in his office at the City of West Palm Beach municipal building in West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday, January 15, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James leads a city about the same size as Buttigieg’s South Bend. Here’s what his day looks like. Is this presidential experience?
  8. The Florida Supreme Court, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    “Death is indeed different,” wrote the lone dissenting justice. “This Court has taken a giant step backward."
  9. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.
  10. Wichita State Shockers center Jaime Echenique (21) and USF Bulls guard David Collins (0) battle for the loose ball during the second half at the Yuengling Center in Tampa on Tuesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Lawmakers may require public colleges and universities to ask permission before selling naming rights.