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At Emmys, Laverne Cox shines spotlight on LGBTQ Supreme Court cases

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in three high-stakes LGBTQ employment discrimination cases.

Transgender advocate and actor Laverne Cox, best known for her role in the hit Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black,” donned a glamorous Monsoori gown at the 71st Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. But it was her rainbow clutch — emblazoned with the words “Oct. 8 Title VII Supreme Court” — that made more than just a fashion statement.

“We want everyone to tell their friends and families about this case,” Cox said during a red carpet interview with E!.

The “case” Cox referred to is actually three different LGBTQ employment cases that will be heard Oct. 8 by the Supreme Court. At stake is whether sex discrimination, covered by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cox said when she received her third Emmy nomination earlier this year, she thought there may be a “bigger reason” behind the honor.

“I thought maybe it’s about this case,” she told E!. “Maybe it’s about raising awareness, so that everyone knows that our lives are in danger, and a lot of people aren’t talking about this case, and it has implications for the LGBTQ community, but it has implications for women and anyone who doesn’t conform to someone else’s idea of how you should be a man or a woman or both or neither.”

Cox was joined at the Emmys by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Chase Strangio, who’s one of the attorneys working on the Oct. 8 cases before the Supreme Court.

“Everyone should be aware that the [Trump] administration is asking the Supreme Court to make it legal to fire workers just because they’re LGBTQ,” Strangio said of the cases. “This is actually going to transform the lives of LGBTQ people, and people who are not LGBTQ —anyone who departs from sex stereotypes.”

Earlier this year, the Trump administration submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court arguing — in two separate filings — that neither gay workers nor transgender workers should be protected by federal civil rights law.

The briefs, submitted by Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco and other Department of Justice attorneys, argued that Title VII’s prohibition of “sex” discrimination only refers to discrimination based on “employees’ biological sex,” not their “sexual orientation” or “subjective gender identity.”

Detailed information about the cases — Bostock v. Clayton, Altitude v. Zarda and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC — can be found in this previous NBC News article.

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