On Michelangelo Signorile, at HuffPo, writes about his recent interview with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
… Harkin … called on President Obama once again to sign an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity among federal contractors. Activists have pressured the White House on the issue for much of this year, because getting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed in Congress is nearly impossible with Republicans in control of the House, but the Obama administration has steadfastly rebuffed pleas to sign the order.
‘Absolutely, he should [sign the order],’ Harkin said on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week. ‘A number of us have written him a letters about this, that he should sign it. I mean, federal contractors, people who contract with the federal government, and use taxpayer money, should not be allowed to discriminated on the basis of sexual preference or sexual orientation. So, I think the president should sign that. And we’re going to continue to put the pressure on him to do so.’
Harkin is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and has been a vocal proponent of ENDA.
‘I’m not going to give up on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. … I know we can’t get it this year because of Republican opposition, but I‘ll be there next year. We’ll have Barack Obama as president. I believe we’ll still have a majority in the Senate and I’m going to continue to bring it up. … Right now, a lot of employers are caught in a crossfire on this. If they have ENDA, it frees them up.
John Aravosis comments:
Basically, it’s an ENDA-style executive order covering government contractors. At this point, politically, it couldn’t hurt the President to do everything he can to shore up the base.
As Signorile indicates, this isn’t a new effort. Back in May 2011, Freedom to Work published:
LGBT Executive Order for Federal Contractors
One Signature Can Stop Discrimination: President Obama should sign an ENDA Executive Order to save U.S. taxpayer money and protect LGBT Americans’ freedom to work for federal contractors.
About the ENDA Executive Order for federal contractors, Freedom to Work provides this context:
This policy would be based on a solid foundation built 70 years ago, when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 requiring any private company involved in defense contracts to ensure that the work for the U.S. taxpayers was administered without discrimination as to ‘race, creed, color or national origin.’ It is now time to bring our government’s contractor policies into the next century by barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
(Tom Harkin photo via HarkinSenate.gov)