Federal contractors account for more than 20% of jobs in the U.S. And right now, it’s perfectly legal for these corporations — paid by your tax dollars — to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees.
In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 prohibiting government contractors from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
In 2012, President Obama is “banking on gay donors to make up the cash it’s losing from other groups of wealthy supporters who have been alienated and disappointed by elements of Obama’s first term.” But despite the fact that in 2008 candidate Obama committed to supporting a “written non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity,” he is now refusing to sign such an Executive Order — even though the Justice Department and the Department of Labor have given their approval.
Seventy-two members of Congress have already signed a letter by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., urging President Obama to issue an executive order that would protect approximately 16 million LGBT federal workers from discrimination. If your member of Congress has not signed this letter, we need you to call them and ask them to do so.
The simple truth is that no one should lose their jobs based on their sexual identity or orientation, and the President’s executive order is the fastest and easiest way to prevent this discrimination.
Even with Democrats in control of Congress in 2008 and 2009, President Obama was still unable to pass a comprehensive ENDA. Rep. Pallone’s letter may not only help urge the President do the right thing, but can help us discover how many members of Congress truly support the executive order route – and more importantly, who doesn’t.
Most notably, of the 127 Democratic members of Congress who have not signed the letter, over 50 of them have taken money from LGBT PACs, were ENDA co-sponsors in congress or fundraised off LGBT issues. With ENDA co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle, there’s absolutely no excuse for any member of Congress to refuse their support — including those in more conservative districts.
A poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign shows that 73% of 2012 likely voters support an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. And according to a survey by the Center for American Progress, 90% of Americans believe federal protections already exist for LGBT workers. Support is strong across party lines, with 81 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans supporting workplace nondiscrimination laws for gay and transgender people. There is no good reason for any member of Congress to refuse to sign on to Rep. Pallone’s letter, especially since ENDA has both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.
President Obama is leaning heavily on the LGBT community to fund the 2012 race. After elections are over, politicians historically become chronically unresponsive to the things they said on the campaign trail. President Obama should fulfill his 2008 promise on ENDA now, even as he’s asking for support from members of the LGBT community who suffer economic hardship because he won’t.
We’ll be keeping count.