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Senators Ask Obama for Executive Order Banning LGBT Employment Discrimination by Federal Contractors

By Sunnivie Brydum

Nearly 40 Senators signed on to a letter today urging President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against potential employees because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

“Issuing an Executive Order that includes sexual orientation and gender identity is a critical step that you can take today toward ending discrimination in the workplace,” wrote the Senators. “By expanding protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors, you would be helping to ensure that all Americans get an equal opportunity to succeed and that federal taxpayer dollars are used to support companies with the best employment practices.”

The letter was drafted by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and signed by 36 other Senators, all Democrats — including the nation's first out lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, California's Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. The letter cites a figure from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, estimating that an executive order barring employment discrimination would protect more than 16 million workers from being fired solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"An executive order from President Obama would ensure that hundreds of thousands of LGBT federal contract employees could go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a release. "I am grateful to these leaders in the Senate for speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans who want nothing more than a fair shot at a job."

Read the full text of the letter in this PDF

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