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June 17, 2014

Policy Update: An Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers

Today, we learned that the President Obama will sign an Executive Order (EO) banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity by federal contractors.  We appreciate this bold move by the President to provide much-needed protections to the LGBT employees of federal contractors, who deserve to be judged, not based on who they are or whom they love, but on how they perform on the job.  Today’s announcement is of particular importance to LGBT older adults, who, despite facing unique challenges, including discrimination based on both their age and their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, continue to work in this challenging economy. Many of this generation are in fact compelled to stay in the workforce given the financial effects of facing a lifetime of discrimination both in and out of the workplace and the continued discrimination in government benefits.  While LGBT older adults are often perceived to be a wealthy population, nothing could be further from the truth.   Many LGBT older adults must continue to work – undoubtedly many as employees of federal contractors – to age successfully like their counterparts.  SAGEWorks, SAGE’s national, older adult, employment program, helps LGBT older adults navigate this often challenging time in their lives to obtain employment.  

This Executive Order also serves as a reminder that those who are not employees of federal contractors still remain at risk of being fired simply for who they are or whom they love.  There is still no national, non-discrimination protections to protect individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the workplace.  We call on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to provide concrete protections, and to send a much-needed message, that all working individuals, including LGBT older adults, can and should be able to bring their entire selves to work, without the fear of discrimination.  

This EO has been a long time coming and many of our allies in the LGBT advocacy community deserve our thanks and appreciation for helping to bring this day to pass.  We congratulate the White House on this landmark Executive Order and we look forward to seeing the President’s leadership in working with Congress to pass ENDA. 

-- Posted by Aaron Tax, Director of Federal Government Relations

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