Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.
I’ve been involved in civil rights work for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of victories and setbacks. But in recent years, the speed of our progress on equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans has been nothing short of astonishing. The Labor Department has played an important role in that progress, and I’m proud to continue it today.
Today, we are issuing a rule to implement Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama in July, to ensure that federal contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the president put it: “Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done.”
The federal government should be a model employer, leading and not lagging on these issues. Today’s announcement confirms that the federal contracting system will no longer subsidize exclusion and discrimination.
Many businesses, large and small, already offer workplace protections to LGBT employees, as do 18 states and the District of Columbia. But far too many people can legally lose their job simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Thanks to the president’s leadership, that will no longer happen in companies that contract with the federal government.
This is about fairness and opportunity in the American workplace. If we truly believe that we’re all created equal, then we must treat all of America’s workers equally under the law. And we must do our part to ensure that everybody who works hard has the same opportunity to pursue and realize their dreams.
This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the profitable thing to do. Ensuring fairness is the best way to attract good workers, to increase productivity and to make sure that we never leave talent on the table. America simply cannot afford that. Moreover, none of us can perform our best when we fear for our livelihood and economic security. A workplace culture based on tolerance and acceptance allows us to bring our whole selves to work.
Over the past century, American presidents have barred discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Today’s announcement is the next step in America’s continued march of progress and expanded opportunity by securing critical workplace rights for our LGBT friends, neighbors and colleagues – more evidence that the long arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice.
Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter at @LaborSec.