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EqualityOnTrial at the White House for signing of historic LGBT non-discrimination order

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President Obama speaks before signing LGBT contractor executive order. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
President Obama speaks before signing LGBT contractor executive order. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
On Friday, President Obama announced that he would sign two executive orders on Monday, July 21. I was invited to the signing, so I flew in from Netroots Nation in Detroit on Sunday.

We all worked so hard to get to this moment and I felt so blessed to be there to represent all of you. I know that Courage Campaign had a petiton urging the President to sign this executive order, and 34,000+ people signed it.

And on a more personal note, I wanted to be there to make sure there’s an LGBT person with disabilities in the crowd.

We won two major things with this order, which I’ll get into later, in a more analytical post: (1) businesses who have contracts with the federal government (who is the largest employer!) cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity ever again, and (2) the federal government was already barred from discriminating against federal employees based on their sexual orientation; now, the federal government is barred from discrimination based on gender identity as well.

Mia Macy, who was involved in an EEOC case in favor of transgender federal employees, attended the event.

Me at the EO signing, Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
Me at the EO signing, Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
This is a historic step in our movement. As President Obama himself said in his remarks, “more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers.” This action is a historic move toward full employment equality.

EqualityOnTrial will have more coverage of the details of the EO (and more pictures!) soon!


  • 1. brandall  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:16 am

    How wonderful you were able to be there! It is an historic step.

    I would also like to say I have worked for two Top 100 corporations who had Federal contracts. On the projects I was involved with, each of the contracts were worth over $400M dollars. The prime contractor does not fool around with Federal contracting requirements. It is followed, monitored and any anomolies are responded to quickly.

  • 2. EqualityOnTrial at the Wh&hellip  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

    […] EqualityOnTrial at the White House for signing of historic LGBT non … – Equality on Trial (registr… […]

  • 3. F_Young  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    ""…businesses who have contracts with the federal government (who is the largest employer!) cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity ever again"

    Isn't this overstating it? Executive orders can be changed at any time by the President, and these particular amendments would be quite vulnerable if a Republican became President.

    They are huge improvements to LGBT rights, but they are much more vulnerable than legislation, and they underscore how critical it is to elect a Democrat as the next President.

  • 4. hopalongcassidy  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:35 am

    This is certainly a wonderful development but I can't help but wonder if some future president could use the same mechanism to cancel this policy….? We just barely avoided having an insane Mor(m)on prowling around our White House in magic underwear…some day there will inevitably be a right wingnut POTUS…don't forget we had G. Dumbya Bush for two terms…

  • 5. Corey_from_MD  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:42 am

    This step is better than nothing. Let's take what we can get now. This should serve as a call to get to work for the midterms and 2016…

  • 6. Bruno71  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Certainly it could be reversed, like we've seen on the state government level in Virginia by Cuccinelli. Ultimately one day it'll be mostly uncontroversial, but for now we just take what we can get.

  • 7. BenG1980  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:29 am

    The Fourth Circuit just released a ruling on Affordable Care Act subsidies that conflicts with one issued earlier today by the D.C. Circuit. They also released two unpublished opinions. Therefore, it looks unlikely that Bostic will be coming today.

  • 8. Zack12  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:39 am

    We'll know soon enough at 2:30 but I think that you are right.

  • 9. Chuck_in_PA  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Agreed. 100%. Elect the most responsible Democrats to protect our rights.

  • 10. brandall  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Are all cases in the fourth always first in, first out?

  • 11. Ragavendran  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Also, both Kitchen and Bishop were released by the Tenth Circuit ahead of their scheduled 10:30am daily opinions release time.

  • 12. Ragavendran  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Nope – I think either yesterday or last week an opinion was released for a case argued in January or February. Today's opinion was in a case argued May 14.

  • 13. Mike_Baltimore  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

    The integration of the US military is based not on legislation, but on HST's EO 9981. It would be VERY stupid for a future President to try to overturn that EO.

    The longer an EO is 'on the books', the more difficult it would be to overturn it, either by a President or Congress (by legislation). The only legislation since WW II I found that made major changes in the military were:

    1. 'Women's Armed Services Integration Act', a law enacted in 1948 that permitted women to serve as full members of the U.S. armed forces (still in force);

    2. DADT, now repealed.

    So yes, legislation is more difficult to repeal, but it is important to elect a Democrat as President in the November 2016 election to help protect the EOs signed by President Obama, and it is important to vote this November to help make sure the Senate stays in Democratic hands. This will help any Democratic President when appointing nominees needing Senate approval (SCOTUS, other Federal Courts, Cabinet, heads of other agencies, Ambassadorships, etc.)

  • 14. Ragavendran  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Interesting. The DC Circuit also released its (conflicting) opinion today, hours before the Fourth, on precisely the same question. I wonder if they coordinated to release them on the same day :)

  • 15. FredDorner  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    "these particular amendments would be quite vulnerable if a Republican became President."

    A case in point are the protections for sexual orientation which were enacted through executive order by the two previous Democratic governors of Virginia, repealed by Republican governor Bob McDonnell, and reinstated by Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe.

  • 16. Retired_Lawyer  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    At least we know that the Fourth Circuit hasn't been twiddling its thumbs. The Affordable Care decision could scarcely be more important.

  • 17. debater7474  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    It's important to note that Gregory had the opinion in the ACA case. I assumed that he would be writing the opinion in the Bostic case too, although now I'm not so sure.

  • 18. BenG1980  |  July 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I had assumed the same thing. Maybe he's also writing in Bostic, and that's why it's taking them longer than average. At least that's what I'm hoping!

  • 19. DACiowan  |  July 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    The Colorado ban is challenged in Federal District Court tomorrow:

    Here's to a quick ruling under the 10th Circuit precedent. I hope it won't be another stay.

    Also, check out the weather map on that page; you can trace the individual mountain ranges since they're so much cooler.

  • 20. brandall  |  July 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I got a chuckle out of the fact some of you are not only figuring out which cases started when (and therefore the subsequent release dates), but you are now tracking who is specifically writing which opinions to figure out their case schedule. Too bad you can't access their Lexis/Nexis usage so we could see which citations they are pulling up. Ten thumbs up!

  • 21. brandall  |  July 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Actually, the Burns v. Hickenlooper hearing was today (Tuesday) at 1PM MDT. The judge's stay expires on Friday, 7/25. So, he must issue a decision or extend the stay again by that date. This is the case where the AG is not fighting an injunction, but wants a stay on the injunction if the decision is not in favor of the state.

  • 22. Mike_Baltimore  |  July 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    One additional piece of legislation I've found was the separation of the USAF from the Army in 1947. The legislation did more than that, though. It realigned the War Department (Army mostly) and Department of the Navy into the Department of Defense.

    Does anyone know of other, major, changes in the military as a result of legislation?

  • 23. Zack12  |  July 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I think he will be writing the majority option.
    Keep in mind, the 10th circuit ruling when they did no doubt gave these judges more to chew on for both sides.
    And we know it won't be a 3-0 ruling either way, let's just hope the 2-1 will go in our favor.
    If it doesn't, an en banc hearing can certainly take care of that.

  • 24. debater7474  |  July 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    The only problem with that thought is that the attorneys are Boies and Olson. Their goal is to be the case taken by the supreme court; thus, if they lose at the fourth circuit initially, it is highly likely that they will forgo en banc and go direct to the supreme court. It's essentially a race.

  • 25. Gregory in SLC  |  July 22, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Awesome Scottie :D!

  • 26. FredDorner  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    It looks like the judge has already said he'll be striking down the ban, the only question is whether a stay will be granted.

    I'm surprised Colorado's ban stood for even a year after the Windsor ruling, given that it became blatantly unconstitutional the moment marriage had federal rights which civil unions did not. The New Jersey courts figured that out very quickly.

  • 27. Mike_Baltimore  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Off topic, but relevant to this discussion:

    The off again lawsuit (technically an HRC case, but it can easily be turned into a lawsuit) against ExxonMobil for bias in hiring is now on again, per an Illinois Human Rights Commission ruling:

    ExxonMobil is the 57th largest Federal contractor, with about $255.6 million in Federal contracts. According to ABC News, the company says it'll follow new anti-bias rules, a position it would not have had to take if the allegations in the bias lawsuit turn out to be untrue. Since ExxonMobil has been forced to take the position it now has, the lawsuit is made much stronger, IMO.

  • 28. Bruno71  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    The NJ courts didn't have their hands tied by a state constitutional amendment, and they also had previously ruled in 2006 that whatever the same-sex unions were called (CU's or marriage), they had to provide absolute equality. Colorado had no such previous ruling.

  • 29. ebohlman  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:56 am

    It's impossible to overstate the importance of your latter point: last year's NJ case was unlike any other post-Windsor ME case because the key question in any ME case (whether same-sex couples are entitled to the same level of State recognition as opposite-sex couples) had already been decided and was not before the court. Every other court hearing an ME case has had to decide this question.

  • 30. Ragavendran  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Interview with Judge Crabb of Wisconsin:
    Asked how long she expected to serve as a judge, Crabb said, without skipping a beat, "'Til it's not fun."

  • 31. Terence  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:35 am

    North Dakota – "The Minneapolis attorney representing the seven same-sex couples challenging North Dakota's gay marriage ban is asking a judge to bypass a trial and issue a ruling."

  • 32. RnL2008  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:15 am

    And probably another stay just for good measures….ugh!

  • 33. RQO  |  July 23, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Colorado was slow to get on with ME cases, with the first (Brinkman v Long) not being filed till late last October, very much by private party with a private attorney not affiliated with a national LGBT rights organization. Part of the reason may be we had just accomplished very comprehensive civil unions legislation last year, which was a battle royal over several years in the legislature. The nice thing is that the out of state, anti-ME forces like NOM and ADF are not on the scene, and our local social conservative heavyweight, Focus on the Family, still opposes ME but has moved on to other issues. ADF is supporting the "no gay wedding cakes" baker, who lost resoundingly in court and has to file quarterly non-discrimination reports and do sensitivity training, ironically in a state that has marriage discrimination enshrined in its Constitution (for a few more months).

  • 34. hopalongcassidy  |  July 23, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Ain't gonna happen…unfortunately.

  • 35. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I wouldn't be so sure. Considering the pattern of rulings in our favor thus far, it's absolutely possible.

  • 36. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 6:45 am

    See Colorado's ruling status – ruling coming soon

    Sorry if this is a repost!

  • 37. ebohlman  |  July 23, 2014 at 7:34 am

    All this means is that they're asking for summary judgment, just like in every post-Windsor case except De Boer (Michigan); the state will almost certainly agree since a trial would require them to present testimony from expert witnesses and our opponents have no credible expert witnesses left after De Boer.

  • 38. Equality On TrialDetails &hellip  |  July 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

    […] we have noted previously, President Obama on Monday signed an executive order related to LGBT federal contractors and […]

  • 39. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I suppose you could say there weren't any credible expert witnesses left even before De Boer. That fact simply hadn't yet been established in court.

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