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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 12, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 24
Senators and Congress members to Obama: More protections for LGBT people, please Patty Murray, Jim McDermott sign on
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Senators and Congress members to Obama: More protections for LGBT people, please Patty Murray, Jim McDermott sign on

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sixty members of Congress have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to take further executive action to protect LGBT employees from discrimination.

Washington's senior senator Patty Murray, and Seattle-area congressman Jim McDermott were among those who signed on. The letter was authored by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).

Obama issued an executive order in July last year prohibiting companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees, but the Congress members said 'we believe we must go further.'

'The Executive Order does not apply to contractors hiring and doing business abroad,' their letter explains.

'It does not apply to grantees. Moreover, the Executive Order does not prohibit those receiving U.S. funds from engaging in marketplace discrimination (e.g., refusal of goods and services) against LGBT customers or suppliers.'

The letter noted that U.S. government aid agencies work both with foreign governments and domestic service providers that discriminate against LGBT people, even though 'LGBT individuals often represent those in most dire need of these services.'

'We are aware several individual agencies are working to close these gaps by developing policies to prohibit discrimination in service delivery by contractors and grantees receiving U.S. aid dollars,' the letter continues.

'We welcome these efforts. We encourage you to make this an urgent, Administration-wide priority and coordinate across agencies to ensure a broad non-discrimination policy is implemented before the end of your Administration's tenure.'

'To promote our fundamental values of equality, equity, and diversity, we cannot go half way at home and we certainly cannot halt the extension of these values at our border,' Lowenthal said in a June 8 statement.

'Our nation has what I see as a major role in defending the innate rights of all human beings across the globe - including the LGBT community - to live, love, and prosper.'

Besides Markey and Murray, the statement was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Christopher Coons, Richard Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono, Jeffrey Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden.

On the House side, in addition to Lowenthal and McDermott, the letter was signed by Ami Bera, Earl Blumenauer, Michael Capuano, David Cicilline, Judy Chu, Gerald Connolly, Danny Davis, Susan Davis, Theodore Deutch, Keith Ellison, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Elizabeth Esty, Ruben Gallego, Luis Gutiérrez, Alcee Hastings, Jared Huffman, Steve Israel, Sheila Jackson Lee, William Keating, Derek Kilmer, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Carolyn Maloney, Patrick Murphy, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Scott Peters, Mark Pocan, Jared Polis, Charles Rangel, Kathleen Rice, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Robert Scott, José E. Serrano, Brad Sherman, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takano, Niki Tsongas, Chris Van Hollen, Juan Vargas, Nydia Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson.

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