Obama White House, Campaign Silent on Federal Contractor LGBT Nondiscrimination Policy Questions

Posted by Chris Geidner
March 12, 2012 4:50 PM |

Obama 500w.jpg[Photo: President Obama at the 2010 White House LGBT Pride Month Reception. (Photo by Ward Morrison.)]

Since Metro Weekly's exclusive reporting on March 8 that then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama told the Houston GLBT Political Caucus in February 2008 that as president he would support a nondiscrimination policy based on sexual orientation and gender identity for federal contractors, the White House and Obama campaign have not responded to any questions about the issue.

The most discussed way for Obama to implement such a nondiscrimination policy would be through an executive order. Metro Weekly reported in January that several sources outside the administration familiar with the process said that such a proposed federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order that would include sexual orientation and gender identity has been given the okay by both the Labor Department, which oversees federal contract compliance, and the Justice Department and that the executive order proposal is at the White House.

People employed by federal contractors, according to the Freedom to Work organization that supports the executive order proposal, constitute more than 20 percent of the American workforce.

The silence on this proposal comes even as the White House today announced two other jobs-related initiatives -- the Universal Displaced Worker Program and the American Job Center -- and held a conference call with reporters to promote those programs. The call included the participation of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, whose department would implement the federal contractor executive order.

In a statement released promoting the programs, Obama is quoted as saying, "Anyone who has lost a job, no matter what the circumstances, deserves the same support to get back on their feet -- and today's announcement will help make sure they get it."

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011, 47 percent of survey respondents said they "had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming."

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about whether the programs announced today include any nondiscrimination requirements that would include sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is particularly relevant with regards to the American Job Center, which, according to the White House, "will build on [the administration's] partnerships with state and federal agencies, libraries, community colleges, and community organizations to ensure broad access in all parts of the country."

In addition to questions about today's new programs, Metro Weekly today reiterated its question to officials from the White House press office and the Obama campaign's press office about whether the President changed his position since February 2008 regarding a federal contractor nondiscrimination policy, and, if not, why has he not signed an executive order to implement such a policy. Neither the White House nor the Obama campaign have responded.

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