Twenty-eight million Americans will go to work this week with a new freedom– the freedom to work without fear of being fired for who they are, or who they love.
For many it will be for the first time. President Obama on Monday ended decades of taxpayer-funded discrimination by signing a pair of executive orders. As a result, more than one in five American workers can breathe easier knowing that they cannot be passed up for employment or a promotion simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. With this executive action, President Obama joins presidents of both parties in using the power of the office to ensure that every federal contractor will be required to judge their employees on the merits of their work and not their identities.
Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a real and pernicious problem. Studies have shown that nearly 43 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual people have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace. For the transgender community that number is closer to 90 percent. Nearly a quarter of transgender workers surveyed have reported being passed up for a promotion or employment and a similar number report having been fired outright. As marriage equality makes great strides in state after state, it is unreasonable that those who are finally able to marry the one they love still risk their careers for putting a photo of their spouse their desk.This article was originally published in The Hill.