Blog of Rights

The Drumbeat for LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order Grows Louder

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:22pm

Coming on the heels of a letter from 37 U.S. senators, a coalition of national civil rights, religious, professional, labor, civic and educational organizations sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday urging him to issue a long-sought executive order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors. The letter, which was signed by dozens of organizations including the ACLU, AFL-CIO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Council of La Raza, recognizes President Obama's strong record of accomplishment for the LGBT community, and concludes:

Your record of accomplishment from the first term demonstrates your strong commitment to the principle that all Americans deserve a fair shot to succeed regardless of who they are or whom they love. We urge you to begin the second term by taking strong executive action to prevent irrational workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.

The ACLU has long prioritized this executive order, and included it as the top first 100 day civil liberties recommendation for President Obama's second term. It represents the single most important step that President Obama could take over the next four years on his own to eradicate LGBT discrimination in America's workplaces. It has been estimated that it would cover a fifth of the entire U.S. labor force, and, with federal contractors employing people in all 50 states, would ensure that there were at least some workplaces in every state with legally binding protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

All American workers who stand side-by-side at the workplace and contribute with equal measure in their jobs deserve to also stand on the same equal footing under the law. This executive order would build on a tradition of non-discrimination with federal funds 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. As the chorus of voices in support of the executive order – in Congress, in the media and among national advocacy organizations – continues to grow, the time for action from President Obama is now.

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