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Gay rights groups seek changes in workplace discrimination laws

California is one state that protects gay workers from discrimination in the workplace. However, many states do not offer this protection, and gay rights groups and advocates are working to change that.

In their pursuit of protection against workplace discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, gay rights groups and advocates are pushing for President Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from subjecting workers to sexual orientation discrimination. The timing seems right to many, as this action is being pursued following an important statement made by the president in his recent inaugural address. The president made it clear in his speech that he supports gay rights.

While Obama has garnered the support of much of the nation's gay population, there has been disappointment over his reluctance to issue an executive order to protect workers at companies with government contracts from discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The president's reluctance was dismissed by some as a political decision due to the fact the presidential election was coming up, although White House officials have said Obama was holding out in hopes Congress would pass broader legislation prohibiting all employers from discriminating against LGBT workers. With the election now behind him, gay rights advocates are again picking up efforts to encourage the president to act.

Although there are federal laws protecting workers from discrimination based on sex, race and national origin, there is no such federal protection in place for LGBT workers.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, many Fortune 500 companies have policies in place prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet, a representative from the organization Center for American Progress says LGBT people still experience high rates of discrimination in the workplace.

Source: Associated Press, "Gay rights group seek order on employer bias," Sam Hananel, Jan. 24, 2013

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