CFI, 22 Other Groups Urge Obama to Ban Anti-LGBT Discrimination by Federal Contractors

May 3, 2012

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) today joined 22 faith and humanist groups in urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees of federal contractors. 

You might recall that, while on the campaign trail in 2008,  Obama pledged to work towards a policy prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination among all federal contractors. Several years into his presidency, Obama has finally announced that he will not issue an executive order, and instead leave the matter to Congress*. Our letter is a direct response to this disappointing move. We hope the White House will reverse course on this vital issue and protect LGBT Americans and their families from discrimination.

You can download the letter here. The full text is below.

* Note: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that President Obama had promised to issue an executive order. In fact, he never said that.

May 3, 2012


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 (Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting, January 13, 2012).

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 (Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting).

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.


Anti-Defamation League

American Humanist Association

American Conference of Cantors

Central Conference of American Rabbis

Center for Inquiry

The Episcopal Church

The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Global Justice Ministries

Interfaith Alliance

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