The following is a press release from the White House today (unedited here - scroll to the bottom to read the order Obama signed)
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
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.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Amen!
THE PRESIDENT: Amen.
Amen. (Applause.) Got the “amen” corner here. (Laughter.) Well --
(sings) -- (laughter.) You don't want to get me preaching, now.
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.)
(The executive order is signed.)
Labels: LGBT workplace discrimination