Obama “has long supported an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the statement said.
Joe Solmonese, president of the gay advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, was not happy with the news.
“We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president,” he said. “The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender.”
No doubt, the lawmakers also will be disappointed.
In an April 3 letter to the White House, they encouraged Obama to expand on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 order that prohibited contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
“The opportunity to expand protections against workplace discrimination to members of the LGBT [lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender] community is a critical step that you can take today,” the letter said, “especially when data and research tell us that 43 percent of LGB people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination.”
Only House Democrats signed the letter, which originated with New Jersey’s Frank Pallone Jr.
“I am pleased to join so many colleagues and reputable organizations to call for an executive order that ensures all Americans are afforded the same protections in the workplace,” Pallone said in a statement. “This action by the President will send a clear sign that we will not tolerate such discrimination and serve as a step forward in our efforts to ensure LGBT equality.”
An executive order “would also help advance what is viewed to be a best practice in corporate America: creating a level playing field for LGBT workers,” the congressional members wrote. “The majority of the 50 largest corporations in America, for example, say that adopting inclusive workplace practices — such as adding sexual orientation and gender identity to corporate non-discrimination statements — helps attract the best talent, reduce employee turnover, and overall is a plus to their bottom lines.”
The five largest Defense Department contractors already have adopted the practice, according to the letter. Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the Professional Services Council, which represents contractors, said it supports “action to ensure that all discrimination in the workplace is eliminated.”
While we’re on the subject of discrimination, last week the Federal Diary reported on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, legislation that would provide benefits for the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.