WASHINGTON, D.C.—America’s leading Jewish social justice organization celebrated President Obama’s executive order today on non-discrimination for government contractors as a step toward fuller equality for LGBT individuals. The order protects LGBT employees of companies that do business with the federal government from discrimination at their workplace and prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment. Following the fall of DOMA, which enabled federal workers to extend benefits to their same-sex married partners, Monday’s executive order further establishes the federal government as a model employer leading the fight against prejudice.
“The immediate impact of this executive order is that the many LGBT Americans who are part of the vast workforce of federal contractors no longer have to fear that they might be fired from their job because of who they are,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. “We’ll celebrate this important victory for LGBT equality today. But there are still millions of LGBT Americans working in private industry with no protection from discrimination. Tomorrow it’s on to the next fight.”
One of a handful of select groups invited to the White House to discuss the order, Bend the Arc made a forceful case about why religiously-affiliated contractors, such as some social service agencies, should not be exempt from the anti-discrimination measure. Approximately one-fifth of American workers are employed by companies that benefit from contracts with the government.
Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Hadar Susskind attended the White House announcement of the order on Monday. “We’re very pleased that the President has issued such a strong directive to all government contractors, with no religious exemption—it’s a clear message that America does not tolerate bigotry,” said Susskind. “We’re proud to contribute to the ongoing effort to make the American workplace more inclusive.”
As a proud ally in the national movement for LGBT rights, Bend the Arc has organized marches and candlelight vigils and has brought the Jewish community’s strong moral voice for LGBT equality to bear in states and across the nation. Bend the Arc’s predecessor organization filed amicus briefs on Proposition 8, and submitted an amicus brief supporting the plaintiff in Windsor v. United States of America.