A Win For Workplace Fairness

President Obama Just Announced The Single Largest Expansion Of LGBT Workplace Protections In Our Country’s History


As many as 9 out of 10 voters believe federal law already protects LGBT workers from discrimination. But it doesn’t. And while the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was passed by the Senate this year, it has stalled in the House; Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has made it clear that there is “no way” ENDA will pass this year.

Enter the latest chapter of the Obama Administration’s “year of action.” The White House announced today that President Obama will issue an executive order requiring that all companies who contract with the federal government must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Think Progress reporter Zack Ford has the details:

The order, expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, is an extension of orders previously issued by past presidents — most recently Johnson — similarly banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin among all contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in business with the government in any one year.

The protections will reach over one million LGBT workers across the country, making it the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in our country’s history. There continue to be 29 states that offer no employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 32 with no protections based on gender identity, but many LGBT workers in those states will now have workplace protections for the first time ever. As many as 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

As with Obama’s executive order raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors to $10.10, this order will cover an enormous number of people but still relies on Congress to pass a law making sure that millions more LGBT Americans have the freedom to work.

Recently, some LGBT advocates have been giving second thoughts to the current ENDA bill in Congress, based on a religious liberty exemption that could have the potential interpreted too broadly. Here’s Zack Ford again:

The LGBT movement has also become increasingly divided over whether ENDA in its current form is worth pursuing. After two decades of failed consideration in Congress, the bill has been weakened by an exemption that would grant religious organizations unprecedented privilege to continue discriminating against LGBT people. A number of state groups and legal organizations have recently dropped their support for ENDA because they believe that the exemption goes too far and codifies into law the idea that LGBT identities are incompatible with faith. The executive order is thus an important step even if ENDA eventually passes.

BOTTOM LINE: Americans of any sexual orientation and gender identity should have the freedom to work and the right to equal treatment in the workplace. President Obama’s latest executive action is the biggest expansion of those rights in American history. There is more left to be done when it comes to giving all Americans equal protection, and Congress should follow the President’s lead by passing a federal law that ends unfair and discriminatory workplace practices that hurt LGBT workers and their families.

Teachers forced to sign a “morality contract”

by Dominick Mortarotti via Change.org

I go to a Catholic school in Oakland, and the local Bishop wants to be able to fire teachers for things like supporting gay rights or seeking infertility treatment. Please sign my petition calling on the local Diocese to change this offensive contract.

Petitions on Change.org are started by people like you who care deeply about an issue. It takes only a few minutes, and can change something big.

Start your own petition

My teachers are in trouble, and we need your help. I go to a Catholic high school in Oakland, CA, and the Bishop of our district just put out a terrible new contract which says my teachers could be fired for being gay, for supporting gay rights, for supporting a woman’s right to choose, even for using or supporting infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization.

No one at my school wants this contract: not the teachers, not the students, not even the administration.  

The Bishop in my district re-categorized teachers as ministers to be able to get around employment law and fire teachers for their beliefs or even their personal medical decisions. There’s also a broad ethical clause that would give the Diocese leeway to fire teachers for any belief they hold.

I started a petition on Change.org calling on the Diocese of Oakland to get rid of this offensive and outlandish contract. Please click here to sign my petition.

It has been really difficult to watch my teachers struggle with this terrible contract. Some of them have even quit over it. My favorite teacher is just a few years away from retirement, and she has to choose whether to live with this offensive contract or risk compromising her pension. She’s the teacher who taught me about having strong moral character and standing up for yourself. It’s awful to watch her question whether she should hide her own beliefs because she can’t afford to lose her job.

This isn’t just happening in Oakland. The Catholic church is putting out terrible contracts like this all over America, from Cleveland to Honolulu. 

But some communities are fighting back, and they’re winning. In Santa Rosa, the community fought back so hard against a contract like this that the local Diocese was forced to postpone it. I know we can do the same in Oakland — and make the Bishops think twice before they try to do this to teachers in another city.

Please sign my petition calling on the Diocese of Oakland to change the contract that would allow teachers to be fired for supporting gay rights or infertility treatments.

Thank you,

Dominick Mortarotti
Oakland, CA