After years of pressure by gay rights organizations, U.S. President Barack Obama has finally decided to sign an executive order, which will prohibit federal employers from segregating members of the LGBT community based on their sexual orientation. Speculations suggest the decision has been timed strategically for the election year.
The White House announced Obama’s decision to go ahead with the executive order on June 16th and the announcement immediately thrilled LGBT rights groups, more so because it meant that Obama is not apprehensive about broader action by the Congress. Building up to the signing of the executive order, Obama also addressed a fundraiser that was organized by the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT council in New York the following day.
“The President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity… The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This is consistent with the President’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect,” said a White House official.
In the past, Obama has refused to sign a similar executive order, which seemed to perturb gay rights organizations. On Monday however, the President was met with much praise from all quarters for his decision. According to Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, which is a research organization for LGBT issues, approximately 16.5 million federal workers would be protected by such an executive order. However, the organization did not state a specific number for those who have faced such discrimination in the past though a survey of LGBT adults carried out by Pew Research Center in 2013 said 21 percent faced workplace discrimination.