Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary
Today 37 United States senators, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of a lack of federal protections, it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation in more than half the country – 29 states – and to base those same employment decisions on someone’s gender identity in 34 states.
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 more than 16 million 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.
According to a recent poll commissioned by HRC, 73 percent of Americans support an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors. Furthermore, a strong majority (57 percent) of Fortune 500 companies have enacted such policies for their employees.
Click here to view the letter and a full list of senators who signed it.