Today more than 50 civil rights, religious, professional, labor, civic and education organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of a lack of federal protections, it remains legal in 29 states to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and 34 states lack laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.
“Issuing an executive order is a crucial step toward ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “After a historic pro-equality first term, President Obama could level the playing field for LGBT employees of federal contractors with the stroke of a pen and ensure they have an equal opportunity to succeed.”
“By banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans, President Obama would extend the commitment to non-discrimination first made by President Roosevelt more than 70 years ago when he signed an executive order integrating the nation’s shipyards and other worksites run by defense contractors,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “Taking this action would result in at least some workplaces in all 50 states having legally binding protections for LGBT Americans – a first in our nation’s history.”
“Nearly 175,000 Americans have signed Freedom to Work’s online petition asking President Obama to issue an executive order to save our taxpayer money from subsidizing workplace discrimination,” said Tico Almeida, President of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work. “We are grateful to the dozens of national organizations joining today’s letter to urge the President that the time to act is now.”
Federal contractors employ more than 20 percent of the American workforce and earn around $500 billion from federal taxpayers every year. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors would extend equal workplace rights to 16 million more workers, and would help ensure that they are not forced into the ranks of the unemployed based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Most of the top government contractors—companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin—already have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place, as do strong majority (57 percent) of Fortune 500 companies.
Click here to view the letter and a full list of the signing organizations.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
The ACLU has a long history defending the LGBT community. We brought our first LGBT rights case in 1936 and founded the LGBT Project in 1986. The ACLU’s LGBT rights strategy is based on the belief that fighting for the society we want means not just persuading judges and government officials, but ultimately changing the way society thinks about LGBT people. To end discrimination, the ACLU seeks both to change the law and to convince Americans that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination is wrong. The ACLU carries out this work in five priority areas: Basic Rights and Liberties, Parenting, Relationships and Marriage, Youth and Schools, and Transgender Discrimination.
Freedom to Work is a national LGBT organization committed to banning workplace discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans through public education, political advocacy, and legal work.