Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, former HRC Press Secretary
Yesterday more than 50 civil rights, religious, professional, labor, civic and education organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of a lack of federal protections, it remains legal in 29 states to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and 34 states lack laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.
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 16 million more 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.
Most of the top government contractors—companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin—already have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place, as do strong majority (57 percent) of Fortune 500 companies.
Click here to view the letter and a full list of the signing organizations.
February 20, 2013
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Re: Executive Order Adding LGBT Protections to Millions of Jobs
Dear Mr. President,
We were deeply moved by the passage in your second inaugural address connecting Seneca Falls and Selma to Stonewall, and we agree that “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” Therefore, we write to urge you to take an immediate step toward legal equality by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.
Over the past 70 years, both Republican and Democratic presidents have used executive orders to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted on workplace discrimination or harassment based on characteristics such as race, gender, and religion. These contractor policies exist to this day, and they cover almost one in four jobs throughout the United States. It is now time for an executive order ensuring the same workplace protections for LGBT Americans.
Most of the top government contractors—companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin—already have LGBT non-discrimination policies, and they adopted them because business leaders realize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line. A new executive order will primarily impact those hold-out contractors that are still complicit in sanctioning anti-LGBT workplace discrimination or harassment. According to a study by the Williams Institute, this executive order will provide 11 million additional employees with protection against sexual orientation discrimination and 16 million employees will be protected against gender identity discrimination. And it would ensure that there are at least some workplaces in every state with legally binding protections for LGBT Americans.
Your record of accomplishment from your 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 your second term by taking strong executive action to prevent irrational workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.
The time to act is now.
Advocates for Youth
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
American Humanist Association
Asian American Justice Center
Center for American Progress Action Fund
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Council for Global Equality
Democracy for America
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Work
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
Human Rights Campaign
Japanese American Citizens League
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
National Women’s Law Center
The Opportunity Agenda
People For the American Way
Service Employees International Union
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Unid@s, The National Latin@ LGBT Human Rights Organization
Union for Reform Judaism
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance