WASHINGTON — The White House is said to be reviewing whether President Barack Obama should issue an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last year, Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign, disappointing many LGBT advocates.
But according to a report by the Washington Post, two people familiar with White House thinking said the president may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace.
On Sunday, the LGBT activist group GetEQUAL gathered outside the White House to pressure Obama on his “first-term promise not kept.”
As he was running for president, then-candidate Obama pledged to extend workplace protections to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors, but has yet to deliver any policy to protect these vulnerable employees, who can be fired in over half the states in the country based simply on their sexual identity, and 39 states based on their gender identity or expression.
President Obama could offer these protections today to 16 million people with the stroke of a pen by signing an Executive Order which would protect anyone employed by a contractor who receives over $10,000/year in federal funds. As we approach the first State of the Union for the president’s second and final term, GetEQUAL is reminding the president to keep the promises he made that will not only help boost our suffering economy but protect millions of workers and families.
While the White House has said it would prefer that the U.S. Congress pass a law applying to gays and lesbians in the workplace, action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) seems unlikely, particulatly in the GOP-controlled U.S. House.
Officials have signaled to people working on the issue outside the administration that the president would likely consider issuing an executive order, which can only affect government contractors, reported the Post.