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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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Transgender Rights Update 7/2/14

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Transgender FlagWe had a number of transgender rights stories come across the wires today – enjoy!

USA: President Obama says he will sign an executive order to ban workplace discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity. full story

USA: At the same time, Labor Department Secretary Ton Perez announced that non-discrimination protections will be extended to transgender employees.full story

USA, California: A new law that took effect yesterday will make it easier for transgender Californians to change their name and gender on state documents. full story

USA, Texas: A transgender woman in Austin was turned away from a lingerie store. full story

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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