Lake County News - Thompson calls for Employment Non-Discrimination Act to be brought to House floor for vote
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) on Monday called for House leaders to bring forward for a vote legislation to stop discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
His statement came after the White House announced that President Obama issued an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Today, President Obama issued an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation. The president’s action is an important step towards true equality for everyone, regardless of whom they love. Now it’s time for the House Majority to bring the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the floor for a vote, and end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all workplaces.”
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the U.S. Senate in November 2013 and currently has 205 bipartisan cosponsors, including Thompson, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The ENDA would establish basic protections in the workplace to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
ENDA would provide a basic level of protection against workplace discrimination and would apply to private employers as well as local, state and federal government employers.
On March 18 Thompson joined colleagues in the House and Senate in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to ban federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
The executive order issued Monday does what the letter requested.
The full text of the letter is below.
March 18, 2014
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a “year of action” and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, “now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it.”
As we continue to work towards final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support, we urge you to take action now to protect millions of workers across the country from the threat of discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; however, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step. This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor. When it combined with ENDA, these non-discrimination protections would be parallel to those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.
An executive order covering LGBT employees would be in line with a bipartisan, decades-long commitment to eradicating taxpayer-funded discrimination in the workplace. IN 1941, President Roosevelt prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin. In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded these protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.
In addition, most of the largest government contractors- companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin- have LGBT non-discrimination policies in place. They adopted them because business leaders recognize that discrimination is bad for the bottom line.
Finally, time is of the essence. Even with an executive order in place, full implementation of these protections will require regulations to be developed and finalized, a process that will take many months, if not longer, to fully put in place.
Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality. We urge you to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.