The U-S Supreme Court began hearing cases this week and already things are heating up. Since Monday, the justices have heard arguments on three separate gay rights cases. Two men say they were fired from their jobs because they are gay, and a transsexual person also says she lost her job when she transitioned from a man to a woman. Phil Kronebusch is a political science professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University and he says in several states employers can legally fire someone based on their sexual orientation:

“About half the states forbid someone being fired because they’re gay. And the other half allows that. And there’s been state laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and Minnesota is one of those states.”

The Supreme Court justices are being asked to interpret the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act which bars employment discrimination based on sex. The question is — does that law mean the gender of a person, the sexual orientation of a person, or both? After yesterday’s oral arguments, the court is expected to give its decision by the end of June. Later in the session, they’ll also hear an abortion case out of Louisiana and a gun rights case from New York.