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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 21 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 12
Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith sign letter on anti-LGBT discrimination
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Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith sign letter on anti-LGBT discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Seattle-area Congressmen Jim McDermott and Adam Smith joined 191 other Democratic lawmakers in a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

'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,' the letter began.

With ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) stalled in the Republican-controlled House after being passed by the Senate last year, an executive order banning discrimination by the largest U.S. employers seems to be the only way for the federal government to protect LGBT rights in the workplace.

According to a Williams Institute study, there are as many as 600,000 LGBT employees of companies that do business with the federal government.

'We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year;' the Senators and Congress members said, '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.'

'In 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin,' the letter noted. '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 to Murray, Cantwell, McDermott, and Smith, Washington state Congress members Susan DelBene, Denny Heck, and Rick Larsen also signed the letter. None of the state's Republican Congress members signed.

In the House, the letter was circulated by the LGBT Equality Caucus, along with Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Lois Capps (D-CA); while ENDA's chief sponsor in the Senate Jeff Merkley (D-OR) circulated the letter in that chamber with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).

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