White House seeks to prohibit workplace discrimination
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who has a long history of being a champion for gay rights, called President Barack Obama’s announcement of his intention to sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals employed by federal contractors “a great day for equality.”
On June 16, the Huffington Post reported that Obama instructed White House aides to draft an executive order for him to sign that would ban federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the workplace.
The move is a clear indication that the Obama Administration is prepared to act on an LGBT rights issue when congress has not acted, according to the Huffington Post report.
The administration has been calling on congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for any employer to fire or harass someone based on their sexual orientation. The bill was passed by the senate, but has been stalled in the house. Speaker of the House John Boehner has not allowed the measure to come to the floor for a vote, according to U.S. News and World Report, which reported that the speaker predicted that having such a law on the books would lead to frivolous lawsuits.
In his statement on the executive order, Nadler (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan) referred to the stalled legislation.
“Today is a great day for equality and I vigorously applaud President Obama. However, even after the signing of this executive order, there will still be far too many workplaces where LGBT workers are not protected from discrimination. Congress must follow President Obama’s lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that LGBT workers throughout our nation are treated fairly,” Nadler said.
Still, there is plenty to celebrate, according to Nadler.
“President Obama’s executive order will take the American values of fairness and equality and place them into the law for federal contractors. Civil rights are best advanced by protecting all members of the LGBT community,” Nadler said.
Nadler, vice chairman of the House LGBT Equality Caucus, spearheaded the amicus brief submitted by 212 members of congress in United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that successfully challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) definition of marriage as unions between men and women only.
Nadler is author of the “Respect for Marriage Act,” a piece of legislation that would repeal DOMA, and is the author of the “Uniting American Families Act,” which advocated on behalf of immigration rights for bi-national couples.