High Court: Same Sex, Same Law

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WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court kept it simple Wednesday: Harassment, plus an element of sex, equals sexual harassment -- no matter what your gender. In a decision hailed by gay-rights groups, the court defended the right of a Louisiana oil-rig worker to sue three coworkers for sexual harassment, even though all involved are men. "We see no justification... for a categorical rule excluding same-sex harassment claims from the coverage of Title VII," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court.

"This ruling brings a whole new range of behaviors under the umbrella of Title VII," says TIME correspondent Adam Cohen. "It's an important case." Yet it was a relatively easy decision for the unanimous court. "The court went out of its way not to turn this into a gay-rights case," says Cohen. "It's a simpler question of general applicability -- harassment is harassment."

Cohen thinks the floodgates may now be open. "This is going to have a huge impact on the workplace," he says. "Now that the court has given the green light here, we could be seeing a whole lot of lawsuits."