Transgender Law Center applauds President Obama’s announcement that the White House is drafting an executive order that will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. Over the past 70 years, both Republican and Democratic presidents have used executive orders to ensure that employers who receive federal money cannot discriminate based on characteristics such as race, gender, and religion. We commend President Obama, in his role as leader of the nation’s largest civilian workforce, for recognizing the need to add protection for LGBT Americans to this list.
“This is a common-sense decision and a huge step forward,” said Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center Deputy Director. “Transgender and gender non-conforming employees should be hired and fired based on their merits, not who they are. It’s particularly critical for our government to set that kind of basic minimum standard for companies funded by taxpayer dollars.”
Most of the top government contractors—companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin—have already adopted LGBT non-discrimination policies, because business leaders realize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line. But the new executive order will address those hold-out contractors that are still complicit in sanctioning anti-LGBT workplace discrimination or harassment. This is especially critical for transgender and gender-nonconforming people: a recent survey, Injustice at Every Turn, found that 78% report mistreatment or discrimination at the workplace, forcing many to hide who they are to prevent these abuses.
While the exact scope of the order is not yet known, Transgender Law Center urged the President to craft an executive order that does not contain an exemption allowing religiously affiliated organizations to receive taxpayer dollars while discriminating against LGBT employees or job applicants. “Our government has no business funding employers that discriminate against LGBT people,” said Ilona Turner, Transgender Law Center Legal Director. “We are optimistic that the final executive order will not allow any government contractors an exception from complying with that basic principle of fairness.”