Hoyer Joins More Than 175 Members in Bicameral Letter Calling for Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers from Workplace Discrimination

For Immediate Release:

March 18, 2014

Contact:

Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC — House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined more than 175 Senators and Representatives on a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to issue an executive order that would ban companies from receiving federal government contracts unless they have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  The letter, which was led by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (CO-02), illustrates the growing support in Congress for fairness in the workplace.  In November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employer discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Whip Hoyer is a cosponsor of ENDA, and has continued to urge the Republican leadership to bring ENDA to the Floor for a vote in the House of Representatives.

“[We] urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a year of action and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans,” wrote the Signatories. “An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace.”

Click here to see the full text of the letter and a list of signatories, or see below:

March XX, 2014

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a “year of action” and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, “now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it.”

As we continue to work towards final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support, we urge you to take action now to protect millions of workers across the country from the threat of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; however, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step.  This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor.  When combined with ENDA, these non-discrimination protections would parallel those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.

An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace.  In 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin.  In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded these protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.

In addition, most of the largest government contractors – companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin –  have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place.  They adopted them because business leaders recognize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line. 

Finally, time is of the essence.  Even with an executive order in place, full implementation of these protections will require regulations to be developed and finalized, a process that will take many months, if not longer, to fully put in place.

Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.

Sincerely,

Click here to read the letter.

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