President Obama Signs Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination: FULL VIDEO


This morning, President Obama signed an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors.

Said Obama:

"It doesn't make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that's wrong. We're here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction."

Watch and read the transcript and read the EO, AFTER THE JUMP

Also, read our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman's piece on the executive order and how it may be limited by the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling.


THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House, everybody. I know I'm a little late. But that's okay because we've got some big business to do here.

Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming. You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters — I know because I got a lot of them. (Laughter.) And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — government of the people, by the people, and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: It doesn't make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that's wrong. We're here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction.

In a few moments, I will sign an executive order that does two things. First, the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity. (Applause.)

And second, we're going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees. (Applause.) America's federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.

Now, this executive order is part of a long bipartisan tradition. President Roosevelt signed an order prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry. President Eisenhower strengthened it. President Johnson expanded it. Today, I'm going to expand it again.

Currently, 18 states have already banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And over 200 cities and localities have done the same. Governor Terry McAuliffe is here; his first act as governor was to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Applause.) Where did Terry go?  Right back here.

I've appointed a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public servants to positions across my administration. They are ambassadors and federal judges, special assistants, senior advisors from the Pentagon to the Labor Department. Every day, their talent is put to work on behalf of the American people.

Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business. That's why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place. It is not just about doing the right thing — it's also about attracting and retaining the best talent. And there are several business leaders who are here today who will attest to that.

And yet, despite all that, in too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense. There are people here today who've lost their jobs for that reason. This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness — people lose their jobs as a consequence of this. Their livelihoods are threatened, their families are threatened. In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers. So I firmly believe that it's time to address this injustice for every American.

Now, Congress has spent 40 years — four decades — considering legislation that would help solve the problem. That's a long time. And yet they still haven't gotten it done. Senators Terry [Tammy] Baldwin and Jeff Merkley are here. They have been champions of this issue for a long, long time. We are very proud of them. I know they will not stop fighting until fair treatment for all workers is the federal law of the land.  Everyone thanks them for that. (Applause.)

But I'm going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act. The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.


THE PRESIDENT: Amen. Amen. (Applause.) Got the "amen" corner here. (Laughter.) Well — (sings) — (laughter.) You don't want to get me preaching, now. (Laughter.)

For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form "a more perfect union" — to make sure that "we, the people" applies to all the people. Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we've got a responsibility to do the same for future generations. We've got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love — no matter what, you can make it in this country.

That's the story of America. That's the story of this movement. I want to thank all of you for doing your part. We've got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years. In the last two years. (Applause.) In the last one year. (Applause.) We're on the right side of history.

I'm going to sign this executive order. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)

Lgbt EO

Posted July 21, 2014 at 1:08pm ETC by Andy Towle


  1. says

    My elderly (69yo) neighbor, spent 28 years with HUD, and was ‘terminated’ for being homosexual (seriously, as stated on his SF-50 personnel papers)by a new “Christian” supervisor brought out from Mississippi. He spent what little retirement money he had defending himself to no avail. The Federal Government has the right to fire anyone for being openly gay. Today he stands in line at the Food Bank just to get one bag of groceries. Obama’s order is a very small step but it is a step in the right direction. Someday no one will ever lose their job because they are ‘openly’ gay.

  2. Bill Perdue says

    Finally. Another victory accomplished solely by the LGBT communities. It comes a decade after corporations did the same and six years after it was promised. And it has no disgusting religious exemption.

    We have to keep up the pressure so that we can get an inclusive and robust Civil Rights Amendment passed to protect ourselves, women, people of color, immigrant workers and others who commonly face discrimination.

    We can copy the successes of workers in Seattle who pushed for a $15 an hour minimum wage and who are organizing at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s as part of a campaign to reverse the anti-worker actions of Democrats and Republicans over the last 35 years.

    They did it by defeating liberal Democrats and not taking no for an answer. We can do the same this fall and in 2016 by voting against Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday, the 4th of November, 2014 and on Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016. Vote socialist, vote for referendums for a decent minimum wage, write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote.

  3. rstbastard says

    @Bill Purdue,

    Women, ‘people of color’ (are ‘white’ people a color, Bill?), immigrants (I assume you mean legal, in which case I was unaware they lack civil rights; if you mean ‘undocumented’ [ILLEGAL] they don’t belong here in the first place, but even they have ‘rights’ under the law, and are even entitled to government ‘entitlements’.), NONE of these people you mention face ANY legal discrimination, and in fact they all have legions of ‘advocates’, and even recieve PREFERENTIAL consideration under the law in regards to employment, education, housing, etc. Women in addition recieve preferential treatment under the law in a whole slew of cases vs males. THE ONLY GROUP OF PEOPLE ACTIVELY DISCRIMINATED under the law are homosexuals, and of course anyone who is actively discriminated against in regards to legal preferential treatment throughs things like affirmative action, quotas (benchmarks), etc.

    Obama deliberately waited until the second half of his final tetm to do thid, and reality is it only effects a minority of people. Considering the political power the Democrats have had, they should have done much better, that means passing legislation, not an executive order that can be easily overturned.

  4. Jacob says

    Once again President Obama does greatness for the LGBT Community which we’ve been wanting since the Nixon Era and he gets zero credit here, surprise surprise.

  5. Stefan says


    What year was your friend fired from HUD? I know Clinton banned discrimination against gays in federal employment in 1998 and that it was renewed by President Bush.

  6. ratbastard says

    Only homosexuals are descriminated against in 2014. All the other demographics/groups Bill Purdue mentions are not descriminated against, they actually have laws in place that that actively descriminate against others, in their favor. Many of these laws have been in place going on half a century. Yet their legions of ‘advocates’, shills, pretend/act otherwise; why? And considering the SLAVISH support the Democratic Party gets from the gay community (letd face it, we are as ghettoized politically and in many cases psychologically as African Americans, another core Democratic demographic) , we (gays) should expect better. Democrats are not the under dog political party in the U.S.

  7. Derrick from Philly says


    there is a difference between being discriminated against legally (on paper), and being discriminated against practically (unofficially).

    You’re acting as though when the official discrimination ends it ends the unofficial discrimination. It doesn’t. But it helps.

  8. ratbastard says


    The government and courts take those laws very, very seriously. Any member of a ‘protected class’ who believes they’ve been descriminated against has multiple legal options not open to anyone not a member of a legally protected class. Most businesses and all insurers are, for example, petrified of lawsuits, especially discrimination lawsuits. And it’s not just civil suits brought by individuals, but class action suits snd suits brought by local, state and federal government.This applies to employment, housing, education, etc.

  9. ratbastard says

    Little Kiwi,

    We can’t all be privileged and have a trust fund like you. Unlike you, I’ve lived in the real world since I was a child. I didn’t have a rich, privileged mom and dad to smooch off and fall back on. I know what it is to live in the real world far better than you ever will.

    Now go take your medications like the nice doctor told you.

  10. Just_a_guy says

    I’ve said it before , and I’ll say it again: way too many straight people are, at core, evil and lacking the most basic humanity. We lack an ENDA (or legal quivalent) with just as much teeth as for discrimination against every other protected category. This lack shows that we haven’t fought hard enough. That we have underestimated the evil of our opponents. As long as knee-jerk people on the streets see it as legit to spit on lgbts like this–and this evil shows no sign of stopping any time soon–we need to fight to call it out and to secure legal protections for oppressed lgbts.

    It is Wiemar Republic thinking to imagine that straight people will just show us decency out of their own generous hearts. As if we don’t deserve to demand equal treatment. And as if their hearts have more than a quarter-oz of generosity (which they wouldn’t share with us if we were the last fellow human on earth). no. Enough.

    Equal legal protections under all discrimination laws NOW.

    To accept anything less is to accept the very badge of inferiority that they’ve tried to press on us for too long. Never forget what lgbts went through alongside Jews in the camps.

    But I ask you: by NOT demanding freedom from the discriminate-against-me-because -you-can-and-I-don’t -deserve-better BADGE of less-than-human… Haven’t we FORGOTTEN ?

    It’s not about your bank account, boys. This is way bigger than that. And, yes, it know, it’s too often a terrible personal sacrifice to stand up. But we have got to be smart about it and fight it hard. Because our future as part of a decent human race depends on it.

  11. Robert says

    I LOVE our President. Greatest president of my lifetime. Despite the naysayers here in the comments and elsewhere he will go down in history as the president who not only did more for gay rights than all other presidents combined but who helped lead a turning point in LGBT civil rights with his and his justice department’s advocacy for marriage equality, hate crimes laws, and workforce protection. I volunteered on his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, making thousands of calls in the primary and the general elections, as well as traveling to swing states and knocking on doors to get people to the polls. Among my happiest and proudest things I’ve done. Thank you Mr. President!

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