LGBT Executive Order for Federal Contractors

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

One Signature Can Stop Discrimination: President Obama should sign an ENDA Executive Order to save U.S. taxpayer money and protect LGBT Americans’ freedom to work for federal contractors.

Why? If a federal contractor unjustly fires an aerospace engineer just because she is lesbian or just because she is transgender, and then replaces that engineer with someone who is less qualified, there are two big losers: 1) the victim of the anti-gay discrimination who is out of a job; and 2) the American taxpayers who are paying for the lesser-quality services of the discriminatory federal contractor.

That’s why LGBT Americans and their straight allies – ranging from Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi to Senator Tom Harkin – are calling on President Obama to sign an ENDA Executive Order for federal contractors.

This policy would be based on a solid foundation built 70 years ago, when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 requiring any private company involved in defense contracts to ensure that the work for the U.S. taxpayers was administered without discrimination as to “race, creed, color or national origin.” It is now time to bring our government’s contractor policies into the next century by barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

How will Corporate America respond to an ENDA Executive Order?

Many Fortune 500 companies have already endorsed ENDA, which is stronger than the proposed Executive Order and covers more workers. In fact, the business community is years ahead of the federal government on these issues of fairness and equality in the workplace. Big federal contractors like Boeing and Raytheon have already passed LGBT non-discrimination policies. Some of those corporate policies explicitly say that discrimination hurts their efficiency and their bottom line. At Freedom to Work, we think those corporate policies are correct, and the U.S. government should follow the lead of Corporate America.

Does an ENDA Executive Order grant “special rights” to the LGBT community?

No. This policy is about equal rights, not special rights. In fact, we strongly oppose workplace quotas based on sexual orientation. Straight business owners should not have quotas for hiring gay employees, and gay business owners should not have quotas for hiring straight employees. ENDA specifically and explicitly precludes quotas based on sexual orientation. That’s the correct policy. It would be smart for the proposed ENDA executive order to also prohibit quotas for sexual orientation and gender identity at federal contractors.

Could a future President get rid of the ENDA Executive Order?

It can indeed be rescinded. But we predict a future anti-LGBT President will not rescind, but rather quietly halt all efforts to enforce the Obama policy. That way there is no public backlash. But in any event, the possibility of rescission or under-enforcement in the future isn’t a sufficient reason not to push for these good-government, civil rights protections in the first place.

To read more about the proposed ENDA Executive Order, read the full interview at TowleRoad