Faith Groups to Obama

Religious groups that support LGBT rights pressure the president in a letter about discrimination

On the heels of advocacy by LGBT groups around the country asking President Obama to sign an executive order that would bar discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a coalition of faith and humanist groups issued a letter to the president yesterday morning.

Led by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the letter supports an end to LGBT discrimination and is signed by 23 faith and humanist organizations. The letter asks President Obama to reconsider his decision to not sign the order, echoing several recent op-eds that have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. It also includes a sign-on from 72 Congressional Democrats.

The letter is as follows:

May 3, 2012

Dear President Obama:

On behalf of the undersigned groups representing a wide variety of faith and belief systems, including non-theistic beliefs, we write to express our disappointment in your decision not to issue an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited forms of discrimination in the hiring and employment practices of U.S. government contractors.

We believe that no one should face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity: Our various faith traditions and belief systems counsel the treatment of all people with dignity. They inspire us to act with compassion and to work to ensure that all are accorded respect and equal opportunity. Moreover, many of us draw on our experience as members of groups that historically have known discrimination as a reminder of the importance of such anti-discrimination measures as a means of ensuring fairness in employment.

LGBT Americans face significant discrimination and harassment in the workplace, which threatens their and their families’ economic security. Research has shown that up to 43 percent of gay Americans have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment; this number is significantly higher for transgender Americans (90%). Moreover, between 8 and 17 percent of LGBT workers said that they had been passed over for a job or fired as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result of this discrimination, 14 percent of LGBT Americans earn less than $10,000 per year, compared to only six percent of all Americans (Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute,Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting, January 13, 2012).

The concept of prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment is supported among Americans of all political stripes. A poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress discovered that almost three-quarters of those asked supported protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace. Supermajorities of Democrats (81%), Independents (74%), and Republicans (66%) all supported anti-discrimination provisions (Memo to Congressman Barney Frank re: LGBT Equality in Government Contracting).

For these reasons, we strongly urge you to reconsider issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination by U.S. government contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


Anti-Defamation League
American Humanist Association
American Conference of Cantors
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Center for Inquiry
The Episcopal Church
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Justice Ministries
Interfaith Alliance
Institute for Science and Human Values
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Metropolitan Community Churches
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Churches USA
National Minority AIDS Council
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Secular Coalition for America
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Women of Reform Judaism