Obama to Sign Executive Order Barring Anti-Gay Discrimination by Federal Contractors
Companies that want to do business with the federal government will no longer be able to discriminate against homosexuals and keep their federal contracts, under a new policy announced by the White House.
President Barack Obama said he intends to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Obama had wanted Congress to take action on the issue by adopting a new law banning anti-gay discrimination everywhere in the workforce. But with Republicans opposed to the idea, the president opted to unilaterally expand federal legal protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals.
Advocates applauded the decision, which follows other pro-gay moves by the administration, like ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. military.
“By issuing an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people, the president will not only create fairer workplaces across the country, he will demonstrate to Congress that adopting federal employment protections for LGBT people is good policy and good for business,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group and a former Obama donor, told the media.
Progressive groups like Think Progress said the order will impact more than one million LGBT workers in the U.S., “making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country’s history.”
About 20% of the U.S. workforce does business with the U.S. government, which means that about 11 million workers—whose rights are not currently protected under state laws—will now be provided with employment protections, according to gay rights advocacy groups.
Conservative organizations blasted the announcement, declaring the change “will give activists a license to challenge their employers whenever they feel aggrieved, exposing those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts,” according to Peter Spring, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, who spoke with The Washington Post.
Obama has not said when he will officially sign the decree, but it could come as soon as this month. He had first proposed the executive order during his 2008 presidential run but, until now, rejected calls to keep his campaign promise.
Federal law currently does not prevent discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. Residents in 29 states also have no protection for such discriminatory behavior. However, a total of 21 states have adopted anti-gay discrimination laws.
Most of the Fortune 100 companies have policies protecting their employees from discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, numerous other corporations, such as ExxonMobil and Abbott Laboratories, do not.
To Learn More:
Obama to Sign Order Barring U.S. Contractors from Job Bias Based on Sexual Orientation (by Zachary Goldfarb and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)
Obama to Sign Executive Order Curbing Discrimination against Gays (by Christi Parsons and Michael Memoli, Los Angeles Times)
Obama Administration Announces Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees Of Federal Contractors (by Zack Ford, Think Progress)
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