WASHINGTON, DC -- When the White House announced President Barack Obama would not sign an executive order at this time to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, the president and his aides made clear that ensuring fundamental fairness in the workplace isn't a priority for this administration.
"This is a political calculation that cannot stand," said Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, announcing the launch of an all-out offensive called the "We Can't Wait!" campaign to beat back homophobia in the workplace. "I urged senior White House staff yesterday to reconsider their mistake. We will continue to publicly urge them to reconsider for many months to come. White House staffers and lawyers have let politics stand in the way of a basic American value — that a solid day's work deserves a solid day's pay, regardless of the color of your skin, your place of worship, your gender, or who you love. We can't wait for the White House to catch up with this basic democratic value, we can't wait for them to catch up with the prevailing views of the American public, we can't wait for them to do what is right for the American taxpayers who should not have to subsidize discrimination. And now we have the resources, as well as the will, to give the White House some political courage on this issue."
Within hours of the White House announcement, the "We Can't Wait!" campaign received a $100,000 cash infusion from liberal donor Jonathan Lewis, the son of major Democratic philanthropist Peter Lewis.
Quotes from Jonathan Lewis:
"This isn't a broken promise President Obama can blame on Congress. He has not been able to provide a single valid reason for why he is now refusing to sign the executive order protecting LGBT workers. It has become increasingly clear that this decision is based on cowardice rather than principled leadership."
"Over the past several years the LGBT advocacy groups have jumped through hoops for this administration, conducting extensive research and polling -- more than has been done for any similar executive order -- and now the only impediment is President Obama."
"This is nothing short of craven election-year politics, a game Obama told us he would not play."
Polling from the Human Rights Campaign has shown that 73% of Americans support an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. Additionally, 90% of Americans believe federal protections already exist for LGBT workers nationwide according to a survey from the Center for American Progress.
Every Democratic president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has leveraged his executive authority on behalf of providing a more fair and equitable workplace for all Americans.
Freedom to Work led an effort to collect online petition signatures on Change.org to support such an Executive Order, collecting over 110,000 signatures in just a few days. And President Obama -- while campaigning in 2008 -- made a promise to enact just such a policy for federal employees and federal contractors ( http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7139).
For more information on Freedom to Work, please visit: www.freedomtowork.org . Freedom to Work is a national organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis and legal work.