37 Senators Send Letter Urging Obama to Issue Executive Order Protecting LGBT People from Employment Discrimination

Thirty-seven U.S. Senators led by Jeff Merkley (pictured) have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to issue an executive order protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination, the Washington Post's Plum Line reports.

MerkleyRead the letter HERE.

Reads the letter, in part:

[Y]ou are in a position to protect millions of American workers immediately by including sexual orientation and gender identity alongside long-standing anti-discrimination protections.

As you know, ENDA would prohibit most workplaces in the United States from discriminating against potential and existing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. From our perspective, ENDA’s premise is simple: it would make federal law reflect the basic principle that Americans should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on irrelevant factors such as their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The letter is signed by Merkley, Tom Harkin, Patty Murray, Christopher Coons, Jeanne Shaheen, Mazie Hirono, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Patrick Leahy, Barbara Boxer, Tom Udall, Al Franken, Dianne Feinstein, Claire Mccaskill, Tammy Baldwin, Martin Heinrich, Kirsten Gillibrand, Carl Levin, Elizabeth Warren, Frank Lautenberg, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Sherrod Brown, William Cowan, Mark Udall, Richard Durbin, Bernard Sanders, Charles Schumer, Brian Schatz, Mark Begich, Mark Warner, Debbie Stabenow, Benjamin Cardin, Jack Reed, Robert Casey, and Robert Menendez.

Harkin, the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, promised during remarks this week at an event at the Center for American Progress that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will "move this year."

Obama historically has favored the legislative process over issuing executive orders, but pressure has been growing around this issue.


  1. Ryan says

    He can certainly write an executive order that applies to government workers, and likely even to those who receive government funding (like hospitals or colleges), but could he write an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination and apply it to all businesses, or even most?

    Open question. If he can, I hope he does. Executive orders are really the only way to get by this recalcitrant and horribly gerrymandered Congress.

  2. jomicur says

    “Obama historically has favored the legislative process over issuing executive orders” In other words he prefers to let other people lead on important issues. Some president. Some fierce advocate.

  3. Billy says

    my understanding is that he can do it for anyone who has contracts with the federal government – everyone from Boeing and other Defense contractors to Xerox to tech companies.

  4. Jordan says

    I think this is a big one, and needs to be confronted. Obama is an amazing supporter of ours, and I appreciate him immensely, but I do hope he takes the lead on this one.

  5. Patric says

    Hardly surprising that there’s not a single Republican here, but no doubt we’ll continue to hear from the Log Cabin crowd what great allies the likes of Susan Collins and Lia Murkowski and Mark Kirk are.

    As for the Dems, most are not surprising in that they are reliable allies of our community but a few are noteworthy. Claire McCaskill may have felt more comfortable doing this since she’s not up for re-election for another six years but she still deserves a lot of credit for joining us while representing a state where this move is not likely to be very popular. Bob Casey is conservative on some social issues but it’s great to have his support here. Mark Begich is up for re-election next year in Alaska and hopefully our community will stand by him as he is standing with us. Now, as for the Dems and independent whose names are missing, where are Angus King (independent), Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Carper of Delaware (who has not been the ally to our community that his awesome colleague Chris Coons has been), Tim Kaine of Virginia (who won’t be facing re-election for another six years), Kay Hagan (who was an ally in opposing last year’s hate amendment in her state and should get a pass on this letter as she’s up for re-election in a conservative state next year), Nelson of Florida (who is not up for re-election for another six years), Landrieu of Louisiana (who should get a pass for the same reason as Hagan), Pryor of Arkansas and Manchin of West Virginia (neither of whom I would hve expected to sign on as they are social conservatives from socially conservative states), Rockefeller of West Virginia (who is retiring and so should have felt freer to sign on), Michael Bennet of Colorado, Donnelly of Indiana and Tester of Montana and Heitkamp of North Dakota(who represent conservative states but won’t be facing re-election for another six years), Baucus of Montana, Johnson of South Dakota, Harry Reid of Nevada and Cantwell of Washington?

  6. Bollux says

    Executive orders generally involve governmental/diplomatic affairs. A president can’t use them to bypass Congress and enact sweeping private sector legislation at his whim. This isn’t a monarchy with a puppet republic. The executive order in question would only expand protection to employees of federal contractors. Clinton signed orders in the 90’s adding sexual orientation protection for federal civilian employees. Federal military employees earned protection with the repeal of DADT. Obama can broad it a little further on his own. But for something widespread, he needs Congress. This is analogous to similar orders from mid 20th C. presidents that stood as precursors to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

  7. Jennifer L. says

    The important thing to remember about Executive Orders is that they aren’t permanent; the next incoming President can revoke them with an Order of his/her own. So, while this would be a good step, only passing a law in Congress would make it anything close to permanent (and that could be nullified/voided by further legislation, too).

  8. Army Vet says

    it would also help with the current federal employees. there is a growing tend in the federal military and civil service sector to alow the contractor workforces to be the ones to create discontent, complaints, and create hostile work envrionments.
    If the management beleives that they are right and thr LGBT individual is not wanted by them either thy often utilize augmented contractor support, or work with businesss that are contracted for goods and services to complain fals and trumped up allegations agains the federal person for removal.
    Though the ENDA portion woudl go futher there is still a long way as the disparity in benefits, and health care etc have not caught up with the non-discrimination for being hired.

  9. 24play says

    It would be good if Towleroad would stop conflating ENDA and this proposed executive order banning employment discrimination at federal contractors based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
    The two things are related. They are not the same. And this site has been confusing the two for some time.

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