On Aug. 28, the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming made history by dismissing all charges against Kappa Kappa Gamma and Artemis Langford. The judge found that the offended sorority sisters’ dislike of transgender women did not and could not supersede the sororities’ own right to determine membership qualifications.
Thus, it is not only Artemis Langford, but transgender people seeking to join Greek life and campus organizations, who have won an important ruling. All people who celebrate the Constitution and its guarantee of expressive association should rejoice.
The ruling states, “I turn to guidance from the United States Supreme Court. In Boy Scouts of Am. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000) (Rehnquist, CJ.), the court held that the application of New Jersey’s nondiscrimination law, requiring the Boy Scouts to appoint James Dale, an openly gay man as a scoutmaster, ran ‘afoul of the Scouts’ freedom of expressive association.' 49 Id. at 656. The court found that a state compelling the Scouts to include Dale would “interfere with the Boy Scouts’ choice not to propound a point of view contrary to its beliefs.” Id. at 653-54. “(T)he First Amendment simply does not require that every member of a group agree on every issue in order for the group’s policy to be ‘expressive association.’ The Boy Scouts takes an official position ... and that is sufficient for First Amendment purposes.(…)”
Just as we supported that decision even though it meant a gay man was kept from volunteering with the Boy Scouts, we continue to support the Supreme Court ruling as it ensures that a Wyoming sorority has the right to determine their membership without the courts “invading” or overstepping their role. In Wyoming, we take our freedom seriously.
Attorney for Ms. Langford Rachel Berkness stated, “Ms. Langford has handled the allegations against her with poise and grace and can now put those vicious attacks behind her. The court has spoken: You can’t sue a person just for being trans.”
Wyoming Equality director Sara Burlingame responded to the news by saying, “I am so grateful that one of the kindest young women I know, and the Sorority sisters who welcomed her in, can put this behind them and move on. It took us a while, about 153 years, but Wyoming is starting to show the world that we know how to lead on equality: The live and let live motto in our state just became more true. “
UW student and proud Kappa Kappa Gamma sister Artemis Langford said, “Thank you. I’m grateful that it’s over and I can get back to being a student. I’m grateful for everyone’s support — this has been a hard time. I hope this helps other students who are LGBTQ+ avoid the kind of scrutiny I’ve been under and we can be who we are.”