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Pallone, Polis Lead 110 House Members in Sending Letter Calling for Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers from Workplace Discrimination

March 20, 2013
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Jared Polis (CO-02) led 110 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Barack Obama today calling for an executive order prohibiting contractors without sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies from receiving federal funds. Support for the executive order has grown in Congress with 38 more Members signing on than in a similar effort last year.

 

Pallone, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, held a Capitol Hill briefing last year examining the need to require federal contractors to have sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination policies.  At that time, he called on President Obama to sign an executive order requiring equal protection for LGBT federal contractors.  Polis is a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, which has come out in support of this letter calling for an executive order to protect LGBT workers from workplace discrimination.

 

“All Americans should be afforded the same protections in the workplace, and I am pleased to join so many colleagues in calling for action on the federal level.” said Congressman Pallone. “Right now, it is unacceptable that without legal consequences, a federal contract worker paid by American taxpayers may be fired on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  An executive order by the President is a necessary step forward in our efforts for LGBT equality, one that must be accompanied by passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination (ENDA) by Congress.”

 

"Our laws must match our values as Americans, which is why it is so critical to provide equal protections to all workers. President Obama has shown tremendous leadership and courage when it comes to standing up for equality. I am excited to see so much support for an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating and am optimistic that we will soon be able to pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide more comprehensive protections for LGBT workers," said Congressman Polis.

 

“An executive order from President Obama would ensure that hundreds of thousands of LGBT federal  contract employees could go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “I am grateful to these leaders in the House for speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans who want nothing more than a fair shot at a job.” 

 

“Freedom to Work applauds Reps. Frank Pallone, Jared Polis and more than 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.  “It’s now time for President Obama to build on his impressive record and sign this executive order giving millions of Americans a fair shot to build a career based on their talent and hard work.”

 

Full text of the letter and list of signatories follows:

 

 

March 20, 2013

 

President Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

We write to thank you for your continued leadership on behalf of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.  We believe that a fully inclusive America benefits us all and that sexual orientation and gender identity should never be used to discriminate in employment practices.  For that reason, we request that you make signing an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating in the workplace based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity an initial priority of your second term.

 

Our request begins with a simple premise.  It is unacceptable that it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  Federal law continues to allow this and discrimination based on sexual orientation is legal in 29 states and discrimination because of gender identity is legal in 34 states.  Action at the federal level can put a stop to these unfair and discriminatory workplace practices in every state.

 

Last year, many of us wrote to you, 72 members of the House of Representatives in total, requesting that you sign an executive order that would require any company seeking a federal contract to have adopted workplace policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  We remain committed to passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  However, you can take action today to help prevent these types of unfair labor practices and to lay the groundwork for passage of ENDA.

 

Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 and subsequently amended, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The executive order gave millions important workplace protections and to this day continues to stand as an important protection that is enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the Department of Labor.  According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity would protect more than 16 million additional workers.

 

Even without federal action, many companies are acting responsibly and instituting workplace policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.  In fact, nearly 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their workplace policies and 57 percent include gender identity.  Companies are taking this action because they know that adopting these policies will help them attract the best talent, reduce employee turnover and add to their bottom lines.

 

            Still, research has shown that 43 percent of LGBT people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination.  This data reinforces our general premise that no American should be subject to workplace discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.  With a majority of American workers living in states that have not passed laws granting LGBT employees legal protections from workplace discrimination, an executive order will provide broad protections that will level the playing field.

 

We thank you for considering our request. We also reaffirm our commitment to working with you to ensure that members of the LGBT community receive the same protections and opportunities as all other Americans. Thank you again for your leadership on advancing LGBT equality, and we look forward to working with you on passage of ENDA to establish permanent LGBT workplace protections for our federal employees.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

            FRANK PALLONE, JR.                                             JARED POLIS                       

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            LOIS CAPPS                                                              ADAM SCHIFF

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            JAMES P. MORAN                                                    JOHN LEWIS

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY                                     JUDY CHU                            

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

           

            RICK LARSEN                                                           GWEN MOORE

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN                                               CAROLYN B. MALONEY   

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

SAM FARR                                                                 BOBBY L. RUSH                  

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ                                           BARBARA LEE

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

JOHN CONYERS, JR.                                               THEODORE E. DEUTCH      

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

EDWARD J. MARKEY                                              DINA TITUS                          

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            HENRY A. WAXMAN                                               ALAN LOWENTHAL

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ZOE LOFGREN                                                          KEITH ELLISON

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

STEPHEN F. LYNCH                                                JARED HUFFMAN               

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

           

            DIANA DEGETTE                                                      SANDER M. LEVIN

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

HENRY C. “HANK” JOHNSON, JR.                        EARL BLUMENAUER          

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ADAM SMITH                                                           JULIA BROWNLEY              

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            GARY C. PETERS                                                      MAXINE WATERS

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

MICHAEL M. HONDA                                              LUIS V. GUTIERREZ

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

JAMES P. MCGOVERN                                            BILL PASCRELL, JR.

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            DENNY HECK                                                           DAVID N. CICILLINE

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ALBIO SIRES                                                 DONALD M. PAYNE, JR.    

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

STEVE COHEN                                                          CAROL SHEA-PORTER       

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            TIMOTHY J. WALZ                                                   JIM McDERMOTT

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

PAUL TONKO                                                           LUIS V. GUTIERREZ

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

MARK POCAN                                                          JANICE HAHN                     

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            CHARLES B. RANGEL                                              GEORGE MILLER                 

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

JAMES A. HIMES                                                      JACKIE SPEIER                    

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

SUSAN A. DAVIS                                                      MARK TAKANO                  

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

           

 

PETER WELCH                                                          NOR HOLMES NORTON

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

CHELLIE PINGREE                                                   FREDERICA S. WILSON     

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ALCEE L. HASTINGS                                               RAÚL M. GRIJALVA

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

           

 

            BOBBY SCOTT                                                         MICHAEL E. CAPUANO

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

KYRSTEN SINEMA                                                  ROSA L. DELAURO 

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

BRUCE L. BRALEY                                                   BETTY MCCOLLUM           

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

                                                           

           

            SEAN PATRICK MALONEY                                    GRACE MENG

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ANN McLANE KUSTER                                           ANNA G. ESHOO     

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ALAN GRAYSON                                                     RON KIND                

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

           

 

            JERROLD NADLER                                                   JOE GARCIA

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

LOIS FRANKEL                                                        BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

JOHN K. DELANEY                                                  ELIZABETH H. ESTY           

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

                                                           

 

           

TIMOTHY H. BISHOP                                               ERIC SWALWELL    

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

           

 

 

 

            ELIOT ENGEL                                                            SCOTT PETERS

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

GERALD E. CONNOLLY                                          ALLYSON SCHWARTZ

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

AL GREEN                                                                 JOYCE BEATTY                   

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

BRAD SHERMAN                                                      RUSH HOLT

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

DAN KILDEE                                                             DAVID PRICE           

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ                                                 JUAN VARGAS

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

EMANUEL CLEAVER, II                                          GREGORY W. MEEKS

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

MIKE DOYLE                                                            JAMES R. LANGEVIN

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

ANDRÉ CARSON                                                      KATHY CASTOR

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            DORIS MATSUI                                                         DONNA F. EDWARDS

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

LOUISE M. SLAUGHTER                                         MIKE QUIGLEY

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            BRIAN HIGGINS                                                       JERRY MCNERNEY                         

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

            JOSÉ E. SERRANO                                                    EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

            SUZANNE BONAMICI                                             NIKI TSONGAS

            Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress