WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama, responding to years of pressure from national LGBT organizations, signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discrimination against LGBT employees.
“This is a major step forward in the struggle for freedom and justice for LGBTQ workers and their families,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Now millions of people will have the economic security they need to provide for their families. Through his actions, the President has demonstrated again his commitment to ending discrimination. We thank all the organizations who have worked so hard to make this piece of history. This decision is good for LGBTQ people, good for our economy and good for America. Unfortunately, many of us who don’t work for federal contractors will still lack workplace protections. Now we must redouble our efforts for the urgent passage of state employment protections and strong federal legislation.”
The move comes as the Employment Nondiscrimination Act faces mounting opposition from state equality organizations. Last week, The Washington Blade reported 15 states equality organizations support the proposed law which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but have significant opposition to religious exemptions. The religious exemptions are so broadly written, it is believed that any business could claim a religious exemption as the basis and defense for discriminating against LGBT people or those believed to be LGBT.
The Michigan legislature continues to struggle with how to address discrimination against LGBT people; despite business leaders leading the call for passage of a law to protection the community. The state’s Department of Civil Rights released a report last year showing that discrimination against the LGBT community was “pervasive.” And Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican facing re-election, has said he wants the legislature to debate the issue and have a vote. He made the comments last month at the Mackinac Island policy conference. Snyder is facing stiff opposition from Democrat Mark Schauer, who has unleashed a bevy of Facebook and other social media actions supporting the LGBT community.