Washington Post, New York Times Opinion Pages Cover Contractor Executive Order Proposal

Posted by Chris Geidner
February 7, 2012 2:10 AM |

Quick on the heels of Metro Weekly's exclusive reporting this weekend and on Feb. 6 about a proposed executive order to prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity employment discrimination among federal contractors, The Washington Post editorial page has come out in favor of such an executive order and The New York Times op-ed page features supportive discussion of the issue today.

In part, the Post editorial board wrote:

PostOpinions.pngPresident Clinton issued an executive order to protect federal government employees from discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion and sexual orientation.

Executive orders have also been used as far back as the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to advance fairness in the employment polices of federal contractors. In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the executive order that obligates contractors to adopt nondiscriminatory employment practices.

Mr. Obama could amend that order or issue a new one to order federal contractors not to discriminate in their workplaces on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He would have the vast majority of Americans on his side ....

Mr. Obama deserves credit for his efforts to eliminate "don't ask, don't tell," which prevented gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. He has rightly criticized the Defense of Marriage Act for withholding from same-sex couples federal benefits and responsibilities enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. He should continue on this path by issuing an executive order that makes clear that there should be no room for discrimination in the American workplace.

And, in The New York Times, University of Massachusetts-Amherst economics professor Lee Badgett -- who serves as the research director for the Williams Institute -- wrote an opinion piece relating to the executive order and her new study that was reported about on Feb. 6 by Metro Weekly. She wrote in part:

NYTOpinions.pngWhy should taxpayer money be used to buy goods and services from companies that permit discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Making sure taxpayer dollars don’t support companies that discriminate does not require an act of Congress. By issuing an executive order, President Obama can — and should — make nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity a requirement for doing business with the American public. ...

In the past, executive orders setting standards for contractors have not only put an American ideal of equal opportunity into practice; they have also helped show employers that ending discrimination is good for business. Employers who act out of bias waste valuable training and often pass over the best person for the job. In the case of gay and transgender workers, workplace discrimination comes with an added cost to employers, leading other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers to fear disclosure and contributing to stress, illness and lower productivity. ...

Requiring federal contractors not to discriminate against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity lets the American public win twice — as taxpayers and as workers. New research of mine shows that by issuing an executive order, President Obama could cover more than 16 million additional workers against discrimination. Following the legacy of almost every president since World War II and the lead of most of the nation’s top companies, the president should once again put our government on the side of equal opportunity for all.

Read them both for more.

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