195 Democratic members of the US Congress have written to US President Barack Obama asking him to ban federal contractors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or transgender status.
The group includes 47 senators and 148 members of the US House of Representatives and the initiative has been lead by Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Jared Polis.
‘We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a “year of action” and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans,’ their letter to President Obama reads.
‘As you have said before, “now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it.” As we continue to work towards final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support, we urge you to take action now to protect millions of workers across the country from the threat of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love.
‘We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; however, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step. This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor. When combined with ENDA, these non discrimination protections would parallel those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.’
The group of Democrats wrote that an executive order of this kind would be in line with the actions of other US Presidents who had signed executive orders to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of race and nationality.
‘An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades long commitment to eradicating taxpayer funded discrimination in the workplace. In 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin,’ the group of Democrats wrote.
‘In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded these protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.’
The group of Democrats wrote that it was necessary for Obama to act now as any change would take time to be implemented.
‘Time is of the essence. Even with an executive order in place, full implementation of these protections will require regulations to be developed and finalized, a process that will take many months, if not longer, to fully put in place,’ the Democrats wrote.
‘Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.’