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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 4 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 27
Obama to issue executive order barring Transgender discrimination
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Obama to issue executive order barring Transgender discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

President Obama announced June 30 that he will issue an executive order giving Transgender federal employees formal protection from workplace discrimination.

'The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it's the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won't act, I will,' Obama told an East Room reception marking Pride Month.

Obama thanked activists attending the White House event for supporting and guiding his administration on same-sex issues and equality policies. He also repeated his call for Congress to act to ban discrimination for all workers based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

'We've got a lot to be proud of, but obviously we can't grow complacent,' Obama said. 'We've got to defend the progress that we've made.'

On June 16, President Obama announced he would issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against millions of employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He had delayed signing that order in hopes Congress would pass ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), but changed course when it became clear that the Republican-controlled House would not take it up.

At least two other federal regulations forbid discrimination against Transgender employees.

In 2009, President Obama signed a memorandum saying that the federal government would not discriminate against any employees for reasons unrelated to their job performance. The measure was interpreted as offering protection to LGBT employees.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, barring discrimination based on gender, also applies to gender identity.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said that his department would update its enforcement guidelines to reflect current rules protecting Transgender workers.

'As we celebrate Pride Month and approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Labor Department is reaffirming its commitment to equal opportunity for all,' Perez said.

'That's why we are updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that we provide the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws that we enforce to transgender individuals. These changes reflect current law.

'The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Civil Rights Center, along with the Employment and Training Administration, will issue guidance to make clear that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is discrimination based on sex. While the department has long protected employees from sex-based discrimination, its guidance to workers and employers will explicitly clarify that this includes workers who identify as transgender. The department will continue to examine its programs to identify additional opportunities to extend the law's full protection against discrimination to transgender workers. Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.'

'Today President Obama proved yet again why he will be remembered as the most pro-LGBT president in history,' HRC said in a celebratory statement.

'Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are - like their gender identity. And the federal government, like employers across America, is best served by ensuring every qualified individual are able to serve without fear of discrimination. We thank President Obama for announcing this crucial and historic measure, and we look forward to seeing it signed soon.'

Currently, 32 states lack laws protecting Transgender workers from discrimination.

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