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LGBT Organizations Should Not Criticize President Obama’s Immigration Move

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

President Barack ObamaDear LGBTI Activists, Advocates and Organizations,

Now that the dust is settling I want to again applaud President Barack Obama for his push toward immigration reform with the Executive Order (EO) he spoke of last night.

The President could not feasibly do much more than he did – because of the current political climate, which necessitated the EO in the first place. Hence I do not believe LGBT organizations should criticize President Obama for not doing more at this time, and should instead support this move as a courageous and imperative tool toward full comprehensive immigration reform for all.

The speech and resulting EO is clearly orchestrated to provide as little ammunition to the Republican Party as possible. The President kept it to an enforcement order only, issuing a challenge for the Republicans to get to work on the immigration legislation they are pretending is not there. Remember Comprehensive Immigration reform already passed the Senate and has been at Speaker Boehner’s feet for how long?

President Obama cannot legislate in place of Congress; that is their job. This EO serves as a push-and-shove challenge to the Republicans to now get off their obstructive butts to finally govern on the issue of immigration.

It really is a political tool to challenge the Republicans to do something or choose death in 2016. That is clearly why the President could ONLY give ‘so little,’ as some may see it, at this time – and yet to so many parents and children he has given so much! Almost 5 million will be impacted in a life changing way.

As LGBT activists we should applaud helping the millions consisting of families with children, including many in our community too. Some LGBTI people may be left out – as are many heterosexual people and others in our LGBT community may be excluded simply because our families do not have equal rights – to that I say – where is our Full Equality Bill? Therein lies the real fight for us as a LGBT community. And of course we all support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) for all; and we all ought to support the President in urging the newly elected majority Republican Congress to legislate appropriately on this issue of a broken immigration system. The EO goes mere inches in this direction as it only is enforcement related and does not provide a path to citizenship.

As LGBTI activists our job is not to criticize the President for his immigration EO when he is so clearly faced with the limitations he has – he can only issue an enforcement related EO – as the safest way to tackle these Republicans and do the much needed push.

This has still taken courageous leadership and for that we should be grateful. As an LGBT community with a very supportive President, why would we want to participate in setting him up for EO’s that could be challenged successfully by his enemies? It is bad enough as it is – they will challenge him on this EO and do anything than can to find a way to impeach. They were talking impeachment in their speculative rhetoric before they even knew what he was going to propose. Instead they got an in the face challenge; a call to do their job. Now let us see if they are able to govern or not or will this be yet another excuse to continue to obstruct? However this time the ball lands squarely in their court and they can chose to hit it back or let it drop to the ground and trail off into a distant corner of the court.

We cannot forget that the President has all the guns of the Republicans pointed at him, fingers on the triggers, ready to shoot him down. And so he cleverly crafted this move in a way that points a canon right back at them. He could not do much more.

He said: We will refrain from deporting families and we will deport felons!” He said: “Stronger borders!” He basically said – ‘Now you, Mr. Speaker, its time to legislate on immigration and you Republican Party it is in your hand to fix this broken immigration system.’ All he could offer is something concrete and meaningful to spark this critical challenge.

We must now align with the President and so as a unified community we should focus on the Republicans and demand that they introduce the comprehensive immigration reform that will include all, as well as LGBTI people, as soon as possible.

The President gave us this EO as a tool, a mere tool, for just that – and any LGBTI activist or organization who cries foul, saying the EO is not enough is shooting this process in the foot, derogating from the Congress’s responsibility, and turning their back on the President in his hour of need.

If the Republicans were smart and wanted to save their 2016 chances of anything, they would have a CIR bill on the President’s desk in the first week they govern with their majority in both houses. Alas I think their anti-immigrant stance will prevail and will deliver something unacceptable or not at all. With that said we have to see this as a strategy so we can use the immigration issue toward taking over the Congress and Presidency in 2016. I am on board – how about you?

Best,

Mel

This post originally appeared on O Blog Dee O Blog Da

Time to Cancel Exxon’s Government Contracts?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Exxon-Mobil logoIssuing an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination was a critical step. Enforcing it will make history.

The order prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment by amending an existing order banning sexual orientation discrimination within the federal workforce. It also prohibits the federal government from contracting with companies that discriminate against their employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by amending an order prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

What better place is there to start enforcing the executive order than with Exxon Mobil, the worst-rated company in the history of the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index? Until Exxon finally implements employment nondiscrimination protections for its LGBT employees and works to create an equal-opportunity environment, the federal government should cancel Exxon’s $424 million in 2014 primary contracts (as of August 7) and refuse to sign new ones. Exxon is also a subcontractor on additional contracts, but these dollar amounts are not publicly available. These, too, should be canceled and no new ones signed.

Authored By Antonia Juhasz – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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President Obama Signs Executive Order on LGBT Employment

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

President Obama HRC

Photo courtesy Pink News

President Obama signed the long-awaited executive order on LGBT employment yesterday.

LGBT Weekly reports:

Today in a White House ceremony, President Obama signed a sweeping executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers from job discrimination… In the executive order, President Obama explicitly protects transgender federal employees from workplace discrimination by amending an order issued by President Bill Clinton banning sexual orientation discrimination within the federal workforce. In the same order, President Obama set strong new standards for federal contractors, which employ 20 percent of the American workforce. In so doing, the Obama administration has guaranteed that 14 million more American workers will be protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the part that applies to federal contractors, the Obama administration declined to create a separate carve-out or standard for LGBT employees. Instead, the President elected to narrowly amend Executive Order 11246, first signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965—placing sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.

Ari Ezra Waldman at Towleroad.com looks at the possible complications with the Hobby Lobby ruling:

I can imagine the following scenario unfolding: The federal government seeks bids on a contract and chooses the one from Apostles Corp., a web design company. Apostles Corp. is a private, for-profit company run by members of a conservative religious family who oppose homosexuality and refuse to hire any gay persons. The company declines to sign the federal government’s nondiscrimination pledge and is, therefore, denied the contract. Apostles sues in federal court on a theory similar to Hobby Lobby’s: the behavior mandated by EO 11478 violates Apostles’ rights as a “corporate person” under RFRA and Hobby Lobby, which guarantee that generally applicable laws cannot substantially burden a person’s or company’s religious freedom. A broad interpretation of Hobby Lobby would expand that decision from contraception and health care and bloat religious “freedom” to allow religion to be used as a pretext to discriminate against anyone and anything a particular religion doesn’t like.

And what about religious privileges?

Andrew Sullivan at the Dish reports:

Notably, the draft of Obama’s order contains no additional religious exemptions for the sexual orientation or gender identity provisions beyond those already contained in the existing executive orders, a request made by some religiously affiliated leaders. At the same time, however, the order does not take action requested by some civil rights groups to rescind an executive order issued by President George W. Bush. The Bush order provides an exemption to Executive Order 11246 for any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to hire people of “a particular religion.”

It’s a big step forward, and it was done in a way that will make it hard for a future President to undo.

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President Obama to Sign LGBT Employment Executive Order Monday Without Religious Privilege

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

President Barack ObamaPresident Obama will sign the long-awaited executive order on monday, preventing federal contractors form discriminating against LGBT workers.

The Washington Blade reports:

President Obama is set on Monday to take executive action to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees working for federal contractors and the federal government, the Washington Blade has learned. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama plans to amend existing executive orders barring discrimination against workers to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Obama intends to amend Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, to add the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity. Additionally, Obama plans to amend Executive Order 11478, which prohibits discrimination in the federal civilian workplace — and was already amended by President Clinton to include sexual orientation — to include gender identity.

Although there will be no religious privileges included in the order. an older executive order still applies to some groups:

No further exemption for religious entities will be included in the executive order, but the update also won’t repeal President George W. Bush’s amendment to EO 11246, which allows religious-affiliated federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of religion, officials said. “You can use religion to only hire people who share your religion, but you can’t discriminate against somebody who is of your faith who happens to be LGBT, unless they fall within the ministerial exemption,” officials said.

It’s great that the President is doing this, but it’s both a sad commentary on the inability of congress (because of conservative stalling) to take any action on the matter for how many years now? And it could be reversed with the stroke of a pen by the next conservative President.

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President Obama Will Sign LGBT Employment Executive Order

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

President Barack ObamaPresident Obama will finally sign an executive order requiring that all companies who contract with the federal government must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Think Progress reports:

The order, expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, is an extension of orders previously issued by past presidents — most recently Johnson — similarly banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin among all contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in business with the government in any one year. The protections will reach over one million LGBT workers across the country, making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country’s history. There continue to be 29 states that offer no employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 32 with no protections based on gender identity, but many LGBT workers in those states will now have workplace protections for the first time ever.

A new HRC poll shows that 63% favor a law protecting the LGBT community in the workplace.

LGBT Weekly reports:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) today released new public opinion research that conclusively demonstrates strong public support for federal non-discrimination workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers. A national survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted June 6-10, 2014 by TargetPoint Consulting found that 63 percent of those surveyed favor a federal law that protects gay and transgender people from employment discrimination while only 25 percent oppose it. Enthusiasm for this is especially strong among supporters: 42 percent strongly favor it, while only 16 percent strongly oppose.

And Senator Orrin Hatch has the gall to ask the President to put conditions on his order, after helping to block the passage of ENDA for how many years?

The Washington Blade reports:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is calling for the executive order that President Obama is poised to sign barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors to include a religious exemption along the lines of the pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Hatch made the comments via a statement to the Washington Blade in response to a request to comment on the directive, which the White House on Monday announced President Obama intends to sign. “While the specifics of this executive order are not yet clear, I believe it must include the same religious protections that are included in the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Senate,” Hatch said.

OMG, the balls it must take to stand up and say that with a straight face (pun intended).

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USA, Virginia: Governor Terry McAuliffe Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffeAs his first official act after becoming governor, Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order restoring protections for LGBT employees of been stripped by previous Governor Bob McDonnell.

Joe.My.God reports:

McAuliffe: “My administration is committed to keeping Virginia open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home. Executive Order Number 1 sets the tone for an administration that will not accept discrimination in any form, and one that will work tirelessly to ensure all Virginians have equal opportunity in the workplace, no matter their backgrounds, race, religion, or whom they love.” The Washington Blade notes that today’s order includes gender identity and expression for the first time. Let’s hope Eugene Delgaudio’s head was exploding during his protest today.

Could marriage equality come to Virginia this year? Yes, it’s a long shot through the legislature, but there’s also that lawsuit…

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USA, Virginia: Governor McAuliffe Will Sign LGBT Protections Executive Order As First Act

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffeNewly elected Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has promised to sign an Executive Order protecting LGBT employees as his first act in office.

Joe.My.God reports:

Signaling a new day for LGBT equality in Virginia, Democrat Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe said in his first press conference that his first executive order will be to ban discrimination against LGBT state employees. “In his first day as Governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe has declared a new day for LGBT equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Inclusion and equality won in yesterday’s election, while the politics of hate and discrimination were soundly defeated. We look forward to working with the governor-elect on moving Virginia forward.”

The last governor, Bob McDonnell, never renewed a previous order that had protected the state’s LGBT employees.

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USA: What Happens With ENDA in President Obama’s Second Term?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

What Happens With ENDA in President Obama's Second Term?It looked earlier this year as if President Obama would go ahead and sign an executive order prohibiting LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. Then he didn’t.

Now that he’s won a second term, though, groups like Human Rights Campaign plan to pressure the commander-in-chief to make good on that order and, they hope, to finally make serious progress on an issue that has lingered in Washington for decade: Employment Non-Discrimination.

From The Hill:

[HRC and others] argue that if Obama signs the order it could encourage Capitol Hill to pass broader legislation that would extend a similar ban to employers,

Authored By Andrew Belonsky – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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USA: 73% Support LGBT Workplace Protections

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

New York Gay Marriage PollA new poll commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign finds that 73 percent of 2012 likely voters support President Obama signing an Executive Order that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Support for the protective order remained strong across various demographics, including age, race, education, and political ideology (see word cloud below). As a candidate, Obama committed to signing such an order, but the administration is mum about whether he is currently committed to advancing the issue.

Full Story from Think Progress

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OH: Governor Bans Discrimination for Gays/Lesbians, Not for Transgender Workers

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Governor John KasichOhio Governor John Kasich has signed a job protections order that includes sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

Kasich faced criticism for allowing a previous order, signed by Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, that covered both sexual orientation and gender identity to expire.

The Republican signed his new order on January 21, Cleveland-based bi-weekly Gay People’s Chronicle reported.

Full Story from On Top Magazine

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