President Obama recently signed an executive LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender) non-discrimination order that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity among federal contractors.
The President’s executive order applies to 30,000 companies in the U.S. that have employed 28 million workers. This order will protect 20 percent of the American workforce but not all employees nationwide. However, this order is a moral victory for the LGBT movement.
The Obama administration held off on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as it made progress in the U.S. Congress. It also passed the U.S. Senate with a bipartisan 64-32 vote. Since the House did not act on the bill, President Obama stated that he signed this executive LGBT non-discrimination order. He also stated that he will use his authority and do whatever is possible to protect the workers. President Obama addressed the LGBT activists gathered at the East Room of the White House and said “I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American.”
The new order signed by the President amends orders 11246 and 11478 signed by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon respectively. This new order adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in those orders. This will protect all federal employees from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, stated that the country will take a tremendous step forward with the signing of the new executive order. He added that this executive order will end discrimination for federal contractors and will put an end to discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year that prevented American states from legally recognizing LGBT couples. After DOMA was struck down, the U.S. government announced that the LGBT couples can apply for federal benefits and other state benefits. Likewise, they are also allowed to sponsor their same-sex partners who are citizens of foreign countries for green card status in the U.S. However, LGBT couples can apply for state benefits and can sponsor their partners only if the U.S. states in which they live legally recognize relationships between same-sex couples.