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Pallone Calls for Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers from Workplace Discrimination

March 19, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), along with 47 Senators and 148 Representatives, sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees.  The letter urges the President to issue this executive order as part of his “year of action” outlined in the State of the Union Address.

“All Americans should be afforded equal protection in the workplace, and I am pleased to join so many of my colleagues in calling for action on the federal level,” said Congressman Pallone.  “It is unconscionable that, in 2014, a federal contract worker, paid by American taxpayers, may be fired on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity without legal recourse.  This action by President Obama will send a clear sign that we will not tolerate such discrimination, and must be accompanied by action in the House to finally pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and provide LGBT workers more comprehensive protections.”

Last year, Pallone, along with Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02), led 110 members of Congress in sending a letter to President Barack Obama calling for an executive order prohibiting contractors without sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies from receiving federal funds.

“Congressman Pallone’s leadership to protect LGBT workers in federal contracting has been a driving force behind this letter,” said Representative Polis. “The significant growth in support for this executive order could not have escalated so quickly without his commitment to LGBT equality over the years. I look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure contractors who want to do business with the federal government can’t discriminate against LGBT employees.”

Pallone, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, held a Capitol Hill briefing in 2012 examining the need to require federal contractors to have sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies.  At that time, Pallone led a letter of 72 members of Congress calling on President Obama to sign an executive order requiring equal protection for LGBT federal contractors.

“Freedom to Work applauds Reps. Frank Pallone, Jared Polis and well over 100 Congressional leaders for speaking out to ensure American taxpayers do not subsidize discriminatory corporations where LGBT employees fear they will get fired for who they are or who they love,”

said Tico Almeida, President of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work.  “Mr. Pallone has demonstrated consistent and impressive leadership in our push for fair LGBT workplace policies.  It’s now time for President Obama to sign this executive order giving millions of Americans a fair shot to build a career based on their talent and hard work.”

Below is the full text of the letter:


March 18, 2014

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

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.”

As we continue to work towards final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support, we urge you to take action now to protection millions of workers across the country from the threat of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; 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.  When combined with ENDA, these non-discrimination protections would parallel those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.

An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace.  In 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin.  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, most of the largest government contractors – companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin –  have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place.  They adopted them because business leaders recognize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line.  

Finally, time is of the essence.  Even with an executive order in place, full implementation of these protections will require regulations to be developed and finalized, a process that will take many months, if not longer, to fully put in place. 

Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.