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August 01, 2014

Gender Identity Discrimination

When President Obama issued Executive Order 13672 last month to further prohibit discrimination by federal agencies and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, then ABA President James R. Silkenat was quick to commend the action. “The order is a positive step towards full equality under the law in our country and will offer added protection from discrimination to some 14 million federal contract workers,” Silkenat said in his statement, issued July 21, the same day as the order. The new executive order amends two previous executive orders to include gender identity and to further clarify protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for federal employees and federal contract workers. Silkenat encouraged state and local governments, however, to do more to prevent such discrimination, citing a Human Rights Campaign study that showed that 29 states still allow employers to fire employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. He urged that all state, local and territorial governments pass laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons from discrimination in employment. “Whenever any of our basic civil rights are diminished or marginalized on the basis of personal characteristics, all of our basic civil rights are jeopardized,” he concluded. Silkenat also noted the ABA’s “long tradition of actively opposing discrimination.” The association adopted policy in 1989 urging local and federal lawmakers to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and in 2006 the ABA adopted policy specifically urging the passage of such anti-discrimination legislation related to housing, employment and public accommodations. The most recent policy, adopted this month at the Annual Meeting, recognizes the rights of LGBT individuals as basic human rights and condemns laws, regulations, rules and practices around the world that discriminate against them on the basis of their LGBT status.

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