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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 8
LGBT pressure mounts on Obama
Section One
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LGBT pressure mounts on Obama

Dozens of groups call for executive order against discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Fifty-four LGBT-friendly organizations have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

'Dear Mr. President,' the letter begins. '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 everyone 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.'

MILLIONS WOULD BENEFIT
The letter acknowledges that many companies that do business with the federal government already have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies in place, but quotes a Williams Institute study showing that some 11 million workers would benefit from additional protection of sexual orientation, and another 16 million from gender identity protections.

This letter comes only a week after 37 U.S. senators - including Washington's Patty Murray - sent a similar letter to the President.

The latest letter was signed by all the major national LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, GetEqual, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

It was also signed by many organizations based in communities of color - NAACP, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Council of La Raza, and the Japanese American Citizens League, for example.

The giant labor federation AFL-CIO also signed the letter, as did AFL-CIO affiliates AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees), and AFT (American Federation of Teachers). Other signers included SEIU (Services Employees International Union) and UE (United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America), unions independent of the AFL-CIO.

'A CRUCIAL STEP'
'Issuing an executive order is a crucial step toward ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people,' said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

'After a historic pro-equality first term, President Obama could level the playing field for LGBT employees of federal contractors with the stroke of a pen and ensure they have an equal opportunity to succeed.'

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said, 'By banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans, President Obama would extend the commitment to nondiscrimination first made by President Roosevelt more than 70 years ago when he signed an executive order integrating the nation's shipyards and other worksites run by defense contractors. Taking this action would result in at least some workplaces in all 50 states having legally binding protections for LGBT Americans - a first in our nation's history.'

'Nearly 175,000 Americans have signed Freedom to Work's online petition asking President Obama to issue an executive order to save our taxpayer money from subsidizing workplace discrimination,' said Tico Almeida, president of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work.

'We are grateful to the dozens of national organizations joining today's letter to urge the President that the time to act is now.'

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