President Obama Denies Anti-Discrimination Protections to LGBT Americans
Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that the president will not be issuing an executive order that would, with the stroke of a pen, protect the millions of Americans employed by federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
This was an extremely disappointing development. This executive order was a 2008 campaign pledge by then-candidate Obama, yet four years later the president has still failed to follow through. Instead, yesterday the President asked the LGBT community to “wait” until Congress passes comprehensive national employment non-discrimination legislation – something unlikely to happen with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
This latest move has some LGBT activists wondering whether the White House is “politically homophobic, actually homophobic, or just afraid of doing anything that might risk some attention.” Even on issues where there is broad national consensus – the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (67% of Americans) and anti-discrimination protections (73% of likely voters) are just two of these – the president has moved timidly and quietly, if at all.
As in 2009, when the LGBT community was pushing the Democratic congressional leadership and the president to move forward with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” we are being asked to wait. Then, we pushed Congress and the Obama administration to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regardless – and we won. It required public pressure, civil disobedience, and significant advocacy work, but we accomplished it. We might not have won if we had waited.
Now, we must do the same: We must continue to keep the pressure on President Obama. If we wait, who knows how long that will take? Send a message to President Obama today, urging him to issue an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And help us keep the pressure on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We must keep working on both fronts until all Americans are free from discrimination in the workplace.
Image courtesy of the American Constitution Society.