Now, I've said this before, I'll repeat it again -- it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago.Wednesday it was made clear, the President and his team are apparently counting on the patience of the LGBT community.
The White House dashed hopes the President would deliver an executive order requiring federal contractors to institute non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. From Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly:
Today, however, a senior administration official tells Metro Weekly, "While it is not our usual practice to discuss Executive Orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an Executive Order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time. We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with congressional sponsors to build support for it."Leader Nancy Pelosi was among the first of what eventually became more than 70 lawmakers urging the administration to take this move. A Change petition had collected over 110,000 signatures urging the president take this step.
Metro Weekly has reported in March that, when a candidate for president in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama said he would support a sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination policy for federal contractors if elected president.
Several sources outside the administration familiar with the process told Metro Weekly in January that a proposed expansion of the federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity has been given the OK by both the Labor Department, which oversees federal contract compliance, and the Justice Department and that the executive order proposal is at the White House.
The announcement came just a day after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced a joint congressional oversight committee would be looking into allegations of hostile work environment and unlawful dismissal a gay employee has made in a lawsuit filed against the Library of Congress.
Reactions after the fold.
“There is a well-established record documenting employment discrimination against LGBT Americans based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative. “The ACLU continues to view this executive order as the single most important step President Obama could take this year to eradicate LGBT discrimination from our country’s workplaces. It is extremely disappointing that the administration has apparently decided to delay doing so.”HRC President Joe Solmonese:
We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender. Given the number of employees that would be covered by this executive order, it represents a critical step forward.Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress:
Ten years of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, as well as the research of our partner organizations to include the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, demonstrate that there is ample rationale for this kind of order. No similar executive order has ever had this kind of extensive research or factual basis established. While we believe that further study is unnecessary, we will continue to engage with the Administration to ensure that the case is made even stronger for workplace protections.
Today’s news that the White House will launch a multipronged effort to address workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, rather than immediately issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to have sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination polices, is disappointing.Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
These types of policies are supported by nearly 75 percent of Americans, many of the nation's largest and most prominent Fortune 500 corporations, and nearly two-thirds of all small business owners, based on findings from a 2011 Center for American Progress survey. It has been shown time and time again through research conducted by this organization and others like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Williams Institute, that gay and transgender people face disproportionately high rates of discrimination in the workplace and that policies that protect employees are also good for business and the economy at large.
Just as Congress should pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act now, the president should now also use his executive authority to extend existing nondiscrimination requirements of federal contractors to cover workers who are gay and transgender.
"We are extremely disappointed they are not taking concrete steps right now to protect LGBT employees working for federal contractors. We have decades of research and have heard far too many painful stories, clearly showing anti-LGBT employment discrimination is a real problem.National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:
“While we all continue to work toward federal employment protections through legislation, we know the need is immediate and the president can take action now to protect LGBT workers across the country.
“Federal contractors receive billions of dollars from federal taxpayers every year, and an executive order would extend LGBT-inclusive employment protections to millions of workers. LGBT people and their families should not continue to be forced to live in fear of losing their livelihoods, their homes, their ability to provide for their families, because an employer discriminates. And employers who do discriminate certainly should not be rewarded with taxpayer-funded government contracts.
"We strongly disagree with the Obama administration's decision to not act now. The American people have overwhelmingly supported employment protections for years, even as many do not realize that their LGBT family, friends, neighbors and colleagues are still acutely vulnerable to losing their livelihoods. It remains legal to fire or refuse to hire people based on their sexual orientation in more than half the country — 29 states; the same is true for gender identity in 34 states. Given the huge gap in statewide protections, the administration and Congress must step up to protect LGBT people and their families nationally."
“NCTE joins national LGBT advocates, countless numbers of businesses, and three-quarters of the public in urging President Obama to expand existing workplace protections to include trans employees of federal contractors. It’s a problem we’ve documented in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey showing that 97 percent of transgender people have been harassed at work. Twenty-six percent said they were fired because they are trans or gender nonconforming.”The president had a opportunity to present a real politics of contrast, and on an issue that enjoys 73% approval among voters. Apparently LGBT people toiling in hostile work environments, fearing for—or losing—their jobs doesn't meet the "We Can't Wait" threshold necessary to inspire executive action.
Over the last several years, NCTE has joined national advocates from the Center for American Progress, the Williams Institute, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Freedom to Work, and the Human Rights Campaign in pressing President Obama to expand Executive Order 11246 to include gender identity and sexual orientation. In response to reports that movement on this executive order would be delayed, Mara Keisling said:
“President Obama right now has the power to stop trans employees of federal contractors from getting fired on the job. Of course, we also need the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but we can solve a small but important part of the problem now. What we know is that the White House is going to take a more active role in addressing anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace. But trans people and their loved ones can’t wait. We need to get this done as quickly as we can, and NCTE will continue to work with the White House to make sure that we do.”
Instead, the only thing we can be certain of is there will be no presidential candidate committed to taking any concrete steps to end LGBT employment discrimination anytime soon. We'll get a blue ribbon study, and turn blue ourselves holding our breath waiting for Speaker Boehner to put a bill on the floor, as the White House punts the issue off to the same apathetic Congress that has failed to act on this issue in every session since the 1974, under both Democratic and Republican rule.
We get it.
You have your future employment to consider.
12:56 PM PT: Tico Almeida at Freedom To Work has released a statement, and the announcement of a $100,000 donation from a GetEqual donor to apply pressure to the President on this issue.
I've posted a new diary here.