The following is an opinion piece reprinted with permission from the author.
By Syd Robinson
President Obama received a letter Tuesday urging him to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT+ workers. Nearly 200 Congressional Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin [D-WI] are calling for the President to sign the order to end LGBT+ discrimination on the job.
Since the Senate passed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill last fall, (it is currently languishing in the House of Representatives) victories for LGBT+ worker's rights have included twenty-one states and the District of Columbia passing laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, with 17 states and DC including the prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity. An ENDA Executive Order is a good next step.
Some would argue that laws against private sector discrimination infringes on employers' property rights and freedom of association. Others say that ending this type of discrimination encroaches on religious liberties by forbidding some individuals’ moral disapproval of same-sex sexual conduct.
Despite the moral issues that religious conservatives may hold, it doesn't erase the fact that all people, should have the right to work and earn by means of gainful employment without being harassed, ridiculed, or made to feel uncomfortable by co-workers, employers, or their companies.
AZ Governor, Jan Brewer vetoed a bill, known as SB 1062, just last month. The bill would have made it legal for any business owner to deny service to LGBT+ customers on the basis of their religious belief. Many supporters of SB 1062 have seen the veto as a negative action, claiming that non-discrimination is an act of suppressing the “freedom” of the people of Arizona.
Oppressing some people in order to advance the agenda of others doesn't equal freedom. It means a return to every stain on the collective human record from the beginning of our civilization. If those in support of discrimination had their way, President Obama wouldn't be in the Oval Office. He'd be enslaved, he'd be thought of as less than human, and they would degrade him to his face - rather than behind his back.
President Obama has repeatedly called for the forward motion of America. Both of his campaigns were based on the positive affirmations of a country feeling downtrodden by the previous administration, and its legacy of misinformation, isolation, and fear.
It's time to completely end workplace discrimination, once and for all. LGBT+ workers are everywhere, and have a right to earn a living. In order to keep our society moving forward, Mr. President, you must sign the executive order. And if there's any doubt about it, just remember those three magic words: Yes, you can.