Chris Geidener at Metro Weekly has learned that, as a candidate in 2008, President Obama committed to supporting a “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression … for all Federal contractors,” even though the White House now avoids addressing calls for him to sign such an Executive Order. Over 100,000 have signed a Freedom To Work Change.org petition urging the President to take action and both the Justice Department and Labor Department have approved the language, but administration officials refuse to comment on the matter.
The Obama campaign made the commitment in response to a questionnaire from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus:
The proposed executive order would ensure that the federal government only contracts with companies that protect LGBT people from discrimination, which would impact 16 million employees. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would prevent such discrimination nationwide and make such a policy unnecessary, but there is no hope that it will advance so long as Republicans control the House of Representatives. This is in spite of the fact that most Americans assume the protections already exist and businesses of all sizes support them.
This is not the first time the President’s actions have not lived up to his commitments for LGBT equality. In 1996, Obama committed as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate that he supported full marriage equality for same-sex couples. His position has fluctuated since then and has been in a holding pattern of “evolving” since October, 2010.