Gay activists angered by Obama's failure to sign executive order

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 29, 2014 

State of Union

President Barack Obama delivers the State of Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Washington, as Vice President Joe Biden, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, listen.


President Barack Obama vowed this week in his State of the Union address to use executive powers to act when a bitterly divided, sometimes uncooperative Congress won't.

But despite a flurry of actions -- to raise the minimum wage for federal contract employees and create retirement accounts, among others -- Obama has not signed an executive order to bar federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Activists have pushing for the executive order since Obama was elected in 2008.

Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL, a national organization focused on equality for LGBT Americans, said she was disappointed, saddened and offended by the ommission.

"As the CEO of the largest workforce in the country -- the federal government -- it is incumbent upon President Obama to ensure that all Americans are able to benefit from his executive action; the refusal to do so would mean that the president is actively choosing to permit discrimination against LGBT workers," Cronk said.

Obama actually focused very little of his State of the Union on gay rights, though he did push lawakers to pass tools to protect female workers.

A fact sheet distributed by the White House prior to the speech appeared to indicate that he would mention legislation to protect gay workers as one of the many the administration is working with Congress to pass.

"Today, federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and disability," the fact sheet says. "It's time to add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, so that no American worker can lose his or her job simply because of who they are or who they love."

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