Workplace Protections for Federal Contractors Still Needed

Out & Equal Responds to President Obama’s Decision to Not Issue Executive Order

(San Francisco, April 12, 2012) Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is deeply disappointed with President Obama’s decision to not sign an executive order at this time which would have required federal contractors to have non-discrimination policies in place. By not taking decisive action on this issue, President Obama is sending a message to government contractors that they can continue to discriminate against their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees without repercussions. Our country should never be in the business of funding discriminatory workplaces.

“This is a lost opportunity to extend protections to LGBT people across our nation who work in the wide range of industries that accept federal contracts,” commented Selisse Berry, founding executive director of Out & Equal. “We urge the President to take action on this important measure as soon as possible. Each day that goes by without this executive order is another day when LGBT people must continue to bear the burden of discrimination at work.”

Advocates for workplace equality have been calling on the President to issue an executive order for some time. Earlier this month, 73 members of Congress wrote to President Obama urging him to take this step as did many LGBT leaders and organizations, including Out & Equal. The proposed order would require that federal contractors ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; approximately 16 million Americans are employed by federal contractors.

Because there is still no federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, advocates argued that an executive order would at least extend protections to many who do not currently have them. State and local laws vary from place to place and create a confusing patchwork of policies across the country.