Unmet Promise on Discrimination


By Editorial Board
April 14, 2014
New York Times

President Obama has made repeated use of executive orders to advance the administration’s goals when Republicans in Congress refused to act. Last week, he signed two orders requiring modest but important steps by federal contractors to narrow the wage gap between female and male employees.

These useful measures made even more glaring his failure to honor a 2008 campaign pledge to ban discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A long-delayed measure to outlaw such discrimination by all employers, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, cleared the Senate five months ago with Mr. Obama’s support, but House Republican leaders are in no hurry to follow suit. John Boehner, the House speaker, has said that a law against that sort of discrimination would be “frivolous.”

Mr. Obama said in November that workplace discrimination “needs to stop, because, in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.” An executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors would extend badly needed job protections to more than 11 million employees who work in states that lack such protections and whose companies fail to provide them voluntarily, according to the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law.

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