Obama Executive Order Is ‘Single Largest Expansion Of LGBT Workplace Protections’

Image : Official White House Photo by Pete Souza via Flickr. Post image for Obama Executive Order Is ‘Single Largest Expansion Of LGBT Workplace Protections’

The White House’s acknowledgment that President Barack Obama intends to sign an executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and their employees has become the news of the day — possibly the top LGBT news story of the year.

The executive order, once signed, will affect about 16 million employees of federal contractors. It’s not yet clear, although likely, that there will be strong religious exemptions in the language.

Exactly one year and three days ago, The New Civil Rights Movement reported:

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hosted their annual LGBT pride month celebration today in the White House — something no other president has ever done — and while speaking to perhaps over one hundred invited LGBT activists, journalists, and allies, offered nothing new.

…as the President started talking about LGBT discrimination in the workplace, activists in the room and watching live around the nation wondered if he would surprise them with a special announcement: an executive order for all federal contractors banning anti-LGBT discrimination.

Of course, there was none.

Zack Ford at Think Progress weighs in to frame today’s historic news:

The protections will reach over one million LGBT workers across the country, making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country’s history. There continue to be 29 states that offer no employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 32 with no protections based on gender identity, but many LGBT workers in those states will now have workplace protections for the first time ever. As many as 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

As many as 9 out of 10 voters believe federal law already protects LGBT workers from discrimination. Though this isn’t true, many of the country’s biggest companies do already have corporate policies prohibiting such discrimination. Businesses of all sizes have found that nondiscrimination protections are good for their bottom line, improving the recruitment, retention, and productivity of talented employees and appealing to a wider customer base. A new Human Rights Campaign poll finds that 63 percent of voters support federal LGBT employment protections.

Though Obama had pledged to sign such an executive order during his 2008 campaign, his administration had previously rejected calls for such an executive order for over three years. Press Secretary Jay Carney regularly referred to it as “hypothetical,” stating that the White House preferred a legislative solution for LGBT protections in the form of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Despite ENDA’s passage in the Senate last fall, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has made it clear that there is “no way” it will pass this year.

And that “no way” from Speaker Boehner may have led the President and his administration to move on this long-sought executive order. President Obama clearly has realized that the Republican House and Republican Senators would rather risk losing an election than allow him to win any additional legislative achievements. They have forced his hand — and his pen to paper.

Source: The New Civil Rights Movement, “Obama Executive Order Is ‘Single Largest Expansion Of LGBT Workplace Protections’,” by David Badash on June 16, 2014

 

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