A very unusual coalition of groups is calling on Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for federal contractors. It includes many religious groups, plus major secular groups like the Center for Inquiry and the American Humanist Association. Here’s the letter they sent to Obama:
Dear President Obama:
On behalf of the undersigned groups representing a wide variety of faith and belief systems, including non-theistic beliefs, we write to express our disappointment in your decision not to issue an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited forms of discrimination in the hiring and employment practices of U.S. government contractors.
We believe that no one should face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity: Our various faith traditions and belief systems counsel the treatment of all people with dignity. They inspire us to act with compassion and to work to ensure that all are accorded respect and equal opportunity. Moreover, many of us draw on our experience as members of groups that historically have known discrimination as a reminder of the importance of such anti-discrimination measures as a means of ensuring fairness in employment.
LGBT Americans face significant discrimination and harassment in the workplace, which threatens their and their families’ economic security. Research has shown that up to 43 percent of gay Americans have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment; this number is significantly higher for transgender Americans (90%). Moreover, between 8 and 17 percent of LGBT workers said that they had been passed over for a job or fired as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result of this discrimination, 14 percent of LGBT Americans earn less than $10,000 per year, compared to only six percent of all Americans.
The concept of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment is supported among Americans of all political stripes. A poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress discovered that almost three-quarters of those asked supported protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace. Supermajorities of Democrats (81%), Independents (74%), and Republicans (66%) all supported anti-discrimination provisions.
For these reasons, we strongly urge you to reconsider issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination by U.S. government contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
American Humanist Association
American Conference of Cantors
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Center for Inquiry
The Episcopal Church
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Justice Ministries
Institute for Science and Human Values
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Metropolitan Community Churches
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Churches USA
National Minority AIDS Council
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Secular Coalition for America
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism
This is a great example of how religious and secular groups can and should work together on policies when there is agreement. We can still fight over the religious stuff, of course, but this is a good way to spur positive change.