Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) issued the following statement in response to President Obama's decision to sign an executive order protecting LGBT Americans employed by federal contractors from workplace discrimination without an exemption for religious organizations. Last week, Pallone, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, led a letter signed by 34 Members of Congress urging President Obama not to include special exemptions in his executive order:
"I applaud President Obama for taking a critical step towards ensuring that members of the LGBT community receive the same protections afforded to all American citizens, without any special exemptions. Creating a religious exemption for workplace discrimination would set a dangerous precedent. The federal government has a responsibility to put a complete stop to unfair and discriminatory practices, and I commend President Obama for taking decisive action today.
"What matters in the workplace is how you do your job--not who you are. This executive order will bring immediate relief to millions of LGBT employees across the country who have, until now, been subjected to legalized discrimination.
"It is absolutely unacceptable that, in 2014, a federal contract worker paid by American taxpayers may be fired on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity without legal consequences. This action by President Obama today sends a clear message that such discrimination will not be tolerated and must be accompanied by passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by Congress to provide LGBT workers more comprehensive protections. I commend President Obama for signing this much needed executive order and look forward to continuing to work with him and my colleagues in Congress to further advance LGBT equality."