In his inauguration speech earlier this month, President Obama reflected the sentiment of many throughout the United States related to discrimination based on sexual orientation: It needs to be stopped. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the President noted.
With the election now behind him, supporters of equal rights for the LGBT community are hopeful that President Obama will reverse his stance on banning gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination among federal contractors. He had opted not to issue an executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors from discrimination in the workplace in 2012.
California, along with twenty other states and the District of Colombia, already bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace. California law also prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of gender expression or gender identity.
Many speculate that an executive order is the only way to push through workplace reforms that would extend anti-discrimination protections to federal contractors – a group that makes up about 20 percent of the U.S. workforce. A Republican-controlled House is unlikely to pass a measure that would protect the LGBT community from employment discrimination; similar reform have failed to progress through that chamber over the last decade.
An executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT federal contract employees would have the same effect as a similar federal law. Companies who violate an executive order can be barred from receiving future federal contracts.
Source: Mercury News, “Gay rights groups seek order on employer bias,” January 24, 2012