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16 separate states, 13 attorney generals and three Republican governors are filing the claim.

16 U.S. states are headed to the Supreme Court in an attempt to restrict protections for LGBTQ workers. The states, alongside 13 attorney generals and three Republican governors are arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t apply to sexual orientation or gender identity.

At the moment, Title VII protects a person from workplace discrimination based on their race, colour of their skin, religion, gender and national origin. Recently, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that this also extended to someone’s gender identity.

However, the amicus brief filed by the states argues that: “The Sixth Circuit’s opinion … erases all common, ordinary understandings of the term ‘sex’ in Title VII and expands it to include ‘gender identity’and ‘transgender’ status.

“In doing so, the lower court rewrites Title VII in a way never intended or implemented by Congress in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

The case is being led by Nebraska’s Attorney General Doug Peterson. The three governors supporting Doug Peterson are Matthew Bevin (Kentucky), Phil Bryant (Mississippi) and Chris LePage (Maine).

Related: Supreme Court rules in favour of baker who refused to make gay wedding cake

LePage’s involvement in the case attracted criticism from the state’s Democrats, not least because back in July, LePage vetoed legislation which would have seen gay ‘cure’ therapy become illegal for minors in the state.

Speaking to the Press Herald, Phil Bartlett, the Democrat’s chairman in the state, said: “After refusing to protect LGBTQ youth in Maine from conversion therapy, Governor LePage has turned his efforts toward making sure businesses can fire workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Workplace discrimination laws are in place to ensure that all employees, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation, are treated with basic human dignity and fairness.

“By working to exclude LGBTQ Mainers from these protections, Governor LePage has once again shown that he does not stand with Mainers who are overwhelmingly in favor of upholding these basic standards of decency.”

Although the amicus brief has been filed, the Supreme Court has the option to reject it, and it will decide whether to take up the case in the coming months.