70 House Dems Call on Obama to Issue LGBT Anti-Discrimination Mandate for All Federal Contractors

By Patrick Burke | April 4, 2012 | 4:13pm EDT

A gay rainbow flag outside the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - More than 70 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday asking him to issue an executive order compelling businesses with federal government contracts to adopt anti-discrimination policies for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered (LGBT) employees.

“We are writing to ask that you sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating in the workplace based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” reads the letter, which was drafted by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)

"The opportunity to expand protections against workplace discrimination to members of the LGBT community is a critical step that you can take today, especially when data and research tell us that 43 percent of LGB people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination."

Last week, Pallone, Rep. Louis Capps (D-Calif.) and LGBT activists appeared at a Capitol Hill briefing to push for the executive order -- which would also protect transsexuals and cross-dressers -- because it would be easier to attain than their ultimate objective of passing into law the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—commonly referred to as ENDA.

An executive order, they said, is vital to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers “receive the same protections and opportunities as all other Americans.”

“I’m honored to be part of this letter,” Capps said. “Clearly we want to pass the Non-Discrimination Act in Congress and get it signed by the president -- that’s our goal. But in the interim, there are these other steps we can take.”

Tico Almeida, president of the Freedom to Work Advocacy Fund, said an executive order would be more effective than if Congress simply extended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include homosexuals and transgendered people because the order has superior “enforcement mechanisms

“In a certain limited sense, the executive order is stronger than the Civil Rights Act,” Almeida said. “Under the executive order, the Department of Labor can be proactive -- go out, do investigations, find discrimination, fix it without the person filing a complaint.”

However, conservative groups say that an executive order would be an overreach of government power -- and an attempt to circumvent the legislative process.

“This is yet another attempt by the radical left to simply implement by fiat policies that they have not been able to enact through the democratic process,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told CNSNews.com.

Although ENDA has been introduced several times in the House, it has never received enough support to make it to the White House. In 2007, President Bush promised to veto ENDA if it passed both houses of Congress.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, said that passage of ENDA – or the imposition of an executive order that resembles ENDA -- would be one of the “greatest threats to freedom” and “a lawyer’s dream.”

He said by vilifying and discriminating against business owners who may have moral and religious objections to homosexuality, the LGBT lobby would be promoting the very thing they seek to eradicate – discrimination.

“I call them discriminatory laws-- they discriminate against people of faith and anybody who has a moral objection to homosexual behavior. So obviously, an ENDA bill only grows that power—it puts it at a federal level which would that bring that many more resources against people of faith and anybody who rejects to homosexuality,” LaBarbera said.

“They talk a good game about discrimination and being victims, but it’s so disingenuous because I rarely see homosexual activists who shed any tears for people of faith who are fired or punished or disciplined on the job for opposing homosexuality because that’s what their heartfelt religious belief is, or moral belief. So (LGBT activists) talk discrimination but they’re completely willing to discriminate against others.”

ENDA was re-introduced most recently by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in April of 2011, and has since been referred to several House committees.

According to the bill’s summary, ENDA seeks to eliminate discrimination based on the “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” Religious organizations would theoretically be exempt from the law.

President Obama has previously voiced support for ENDA and signed an executive order in 2010 extending certain job benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers.

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