Pallone Leads Letter Urging President Obama to Sign Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers from Workplace Discrimination Without Exemptions

Jul 15, 2014 Issues: Equality

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led a letter signed by 34 Members of Congress urging President Obama not to include special exemptions for religious organizations in his planned executive order regarding workplace protections for LGBT Americans employed by federal contractors.  The letter comes in response to faith groups calling on President Obama to create exemptions that would allow an employee to be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“We set a dangerous precedent if we exempt religious organizations from these workplace protections,” said Congressman Pallone.  “The federal government has an obligation to put a complete stop to unfair and discriminatory practices.  I am pleased to lead my colleagues in calling for an executive order that ensures all Americans are afforded the same protections in the workplace.”

Pallone, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, has been a leader on this issue for years, having held a Congressional briefing in 2012 examining the need to require federal contractors to have sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies.  He has also led letters to President Obama urging executive action on the issue for the last three years.   

The full text of the letter is below:

July 15, 2014

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

Like so many Americans, we were proud of your commitment to sign an Executive Order banning federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. We urge you to sign this Executive Order as soon as possible without exemptions, ensuring that it will protect every American who works with the Federal Government.  We believe that this is a critical step towards ensuring that members of the LGBT community receive the same protections afforded to all citizens. What matters in the workplace is how you do your job—not who you are. No one in this country should be subjected to discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

In 2014, it is absolutely unconscionable that a federal contract worker could be fired on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity without legal repercussions. Thanks to your upcoming Executive Order, this discrimination will be a thing of the past. The federal government has a moral responsibility to ensure that all citizens are treated equally and with dignity.

Like many people of faith, we believe that a fully inclusive America benefits us all. However, we are disheartened to hear that some faith organizations wish to overturn this progress and continue this legalized discrimination. Creating a religious exemption for workplace discrimination would set a dangerous precedent for employees around the country. With this exemption, employers would be able to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Your action at the federal level must put a complete stop to these unfair and discriminatory workplace practices.

We thank you for considering our request. Thank you again for your leadership on advancing LGBT equality, and we look forward to seeing your final Executive Order.




                                                                       FRANK PALLONE, JR.                      AMI BERA, M.D

                                                                       Member of Congress                       Member of Congress

                                                                       ROBERT BRADY                              JULIA BROWNLEY

                          Member of Congress                        Member of Congress 

                          TONY CARDENAS                            EMANUEL CLEAVER

                                       Member of Congress                         Member of Congress

                                       STEVE COHEN                                   JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                                      Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

                                     SUSAN DAVIS                                    KEITH ELLISON

                                     Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

                                     LOIS FRANKEL                                   JOHN GARAMENDI

                                     Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

                                     ALAN GRAYSON                                BRIAN HIGGINS

                                     Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

                                     STEVEN HORSFORD                           RICK LARSEN

                                     Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

                                    JOHN LEWIS                                       JIM MCDERMOTT

                                   Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

                                   JAMES MCGOVERN                             JIM MORAN

                                   Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

                                   GLORIA NEGRETE MCLEOD                 DONALD M. PAYNE, JR.

                                   Member of Congress                           Member of Congress

                                   CHARLES B. RANGEL                          LUCILLE ROYAL-ALLARD

                                   Member of Congress                             Member of Congress

                                   LINDA SANCHEZ                                   JOHN P. SARBANES

                                   Member of Congress                            Member of Congress

                                   ALLYSON SCHWARTZ                         BOBBY SCOTT

                                   Member of Congress                             Member of Congress

                                   ALBIO SIRES                                         MIKE THOMPSON

                                   Member of Congress                             Member of Congress

                                  JOHN F. TIERNEY                                    DINA TITUS

                                  Member of Congress                              Member of Congress

                                  JUAN VARGAS                                       HENRY WAXMAN

                                  Member of Congress                                Member of Congress