The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that existing laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In a 3-2 decision dated July 15, the independent commission concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to sexual orientation. EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum voted with the majority.

“[A]llegations of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation necessarily state a claim of discrimination on the basis of sex,” the commission wrote.

The complaint was filed by a Florida-based air traffic control specialist who argued that he was denied a promotion based on his sexual orientation.

The commission acknowledged that Title VII does not explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“When an employee raises a claim of sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination under Title VII, the question is not whether sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions. It is not. Rather, the question for purposes of Title VII coverage of a sexual orientation claim is the same as any other Title VII case involving an allegation of sexual discrimination – whether the agency has 'relied on sex-based considerations' or 'take[n] gender into account' when taking the challenged employment action.'”

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, praised the ruling, saying that it was “time for LGBT advocates to retire the incorrect talking point that gay Americans can get married at Noon and fired at 2:00 pm without legal recourse. That kind of unlawful firing falls clearly under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination, and it is already illegal.”

While Title VII does bar religious employers from discriminating on the basis of sex, it also exempts them from the law's ban on religious discrimination. That is, religious employers are free to hire along religious lines and use religious beliefs in making employment decisions.