This morning, President Obama will sign two executive actions aimed at eliminating sex discrimination in federal contracting. Movement on these critically important orders, intended to support a push for Congress to pass the Pay Check Fairness Act, underscores the need for President Obama to offer protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers.
“President Obama will take a tremendous step today by signing executive orders reducing sex discrimination in federal contracting,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). “Issuing these executive orders helps build momentum for Congress to act on paycheck fairness legislation. The exact same logic applies to the executive order that would afford protections to the LGBT workers of federal contractors. By the stroke of his pen, the President can immediately protect over 16 million workers and pressure Congress to pass ENDA. There is simply no reason for President Obama to wait one second longer.”
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the Senate in November 2013 and is awaiting action by the House. By issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting, the President would not only create more fair workplaces across the country now, he would demonstrate to Congress that adopting federal employment protections for LGBT people is good policy and good for business. Federal contractors employ more than 20 percent of the American workforce.
Many American businesses have taken the initiative to put in place corporate policies and practices to ensure LGBT workplace equality. However some companies like ExxonMobil fail to protect their employees, serving as further evidence that Americans need every tool available to protect them from workplace discrimination. ExxonMobil, as a federal contractor, would be required to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, allowing its LGBT employees to go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love.