University of Southern California

Taking the Fight Back to Title VII: A Case for Redefining “Because of Sex” to Include Gender Stereotypes, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity

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Note by William C. Sung
From Volume 84, Number 2 (January, 2011)

Michael P. Carney was a good cop. Since graduating from the police academy in 1982, he received numerous commendations for his outstanding work as a police officer and contributions to the community. He had been recognized for saving a man who had jumped from a bridge into the Connecticut River in a suicide attempt, apprehending a bank robber, and cofounding a youth mentorship program. He had worked as a police academy instructor, an aide to the chief of police, and a detective in the youth assessment center, the narcotics division, and the uniform division. But behind closed doors, he was tormented by the need to keep a secret for many years—Carney was gay.

For years Carney stayed in the closet out of fear of reprisal and being ostracized. He went to work every day afraid to talk about his personal life, including a date from the night before, his weekend, or his family. He went into every domestic or gun call thinking if he were gunned down, who would notify his life partner? Would his life partner learn of his death on the eleven o’clock news? How would his colleagues treat his life partner at his funeral? This fear led to years of isolation and heavy drinking, which took their toll; in 1989, beaten and defeated, Carney resigned from his post.

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