POTUS to Sign LGBT Anti-Discrimination Order


On Monday, President Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order shielding LGBTQ workers from discrimination within federal government-affiliated companies. The directive will also specifically protect federal workers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity but it will not exempt religious groups.

According to the New York Times, the POTUS was moved to sign this order because of the SCOTUS’ dreadful Hobby Lobby decision which anointed corporations as crotchety anti-abortion people who could stop birth control access for their workers whenever they felt like it because cash registers have feelings. Gay activists saw that madness and got nervous about similar discriminatory bills that had arisen in states like Arizona, where businesses were looking to ban hiring LGBTQ employees.

“With the strokes of a pen, the president will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of L.G.B.T. people across the country,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement on Friday. “These actions from the president have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration’s progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-L.G.B.T. discrimination must not be tolerated.”

On the other hand, some spokespeople in the religious lobby like Galen Carey, the vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, feel Obama is being heavy-handed.

“It would be better if the president could provide leadership that promotes tolerance all the way around,” Mr. Carey said, “rather than use the force of the state.”
He said the exemption would have protected the groups’ freedom and “social harmony as our nation is working through these issues, on which there’s a lot of disagreement.”

LOL at Mr. Carey’s use of the word “tolerance.” Because forgoing legal directives worked so well during, say, racial integration of American schools, right? Americans in the 1950s really welcomed change with open arms, plenty of slurs and violence.

Still, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is ramping up a lawsuit to oppose the POTUS’s moves even though President Obama warned Congress if they didn’t pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, he would respond. The act stalled and here America sits on the cusp on a new executive order.

In extending the new protections, Mr. Obama is building on two longstanding executive orders. He is adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protections that apply to federal contractors and that were approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. And he is adding gender identity as a protected category to a 1969 directive by President Richard M. Nixon that applies to federal employees, which was later amended by President Bill Clinton to include sexual orientation.

Thanks to a 2002 executive order by President George W. Bush, religious groups with standing federal contracts have limited exemption from previous anti-bias rules. This means these certain, not all, groups can incorporate their religious beliefs into their hiring practices. Some religious groups see this set-up as a great middle of the road stance; others, including gay activists, not so much.

Image via Getty.

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