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Details on the LGBT contractor executive order

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

As we have noted previously, President Obama on Monday signed an executive order related to LGBT federal contractors and employees of the federal government. The order wasn’t a brand new one – it simply amended previous executive orders signed by past presidents, barring discrimination on the basis of race and sex.

President Obama at signing of LGBT EO. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
President Obama at signing of LGBT EO. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
The full text of the order is here.

First, the new executive order modifies EO 11478 and EO 13087 to prohibit discrimination against federal employees on the basis of gender identity. EO 11478 was signed by President Nixon, and originally barred discrimination in federal employment “because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or age[.]”

EO 13087 added sexual orientation to that list. President Obama’s order adds gender identity.

Second, the order modifies Executive Order 11246, which, when signed by President Johnson, prohibited companies who have contracts with the federal government from discriminating “on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

President Obama speaks before signing executive order. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
President Obama speaks before signing executive order. Attribution: Scottie Thomaston
The new order adds both sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.

In terms of implementation and timing, the order itself says that the section barring the federal government from discriminating against transgender employees will take effect immediately, and the Department of Labor will have to come up with regulations within 90 days from the date the order was signed, to implement it. According to other reports, this part of the order will be in effect next year.

While any president can reverse an executive order, it’s important to note that none of these previous orders have been reversed and indeed there have been bipartisan efforts to build on them.


  • 1. F_Young  |  July 23, 2014 at 8:40 am

    "…it simply amended previous executive orders signed by past presidents, barring discrimination on the basis of race and sex."

    Don't forget to mention religion. Never forget to say that these orders already prohibit discrimination based on religion, and were adopted by Republican presidents. Obama's order does not give special rights; it only gives the same rights that religions, races and sexes already enjoy.

  • 2. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Have you got a source for your update yet?

  • 3. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

    FL – Monroe County – Plaintiff's filed their appeal to the 3rd District Court today

    A minor point – Almost all the media articles (not this one) on this case use the headline "Bartenders…" who are the plaintiff's. None of the other cases ever headline the occupation of the plaintiffs. I find this a bit biased that somehow gay bartenders fit some stereotype.

  • 4. Steve27516  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I'd say it's not a minor point. I've noticed the same thing. Kudos for pointing it out, brandall.

  • 5. brooklyn11217  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    The Colorado state court case or the Federal case? Federal docket for the case shows no orders/opinions were issued today. Haven't been able to find any news about the Federal case other than reports about yesterday's hearing.

  • 6. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    The link to a tweet that the CO judge had ruled is not working. I withdrew the statement about the ruling until I can source it. If anyone has a PACER account, we could see if the ruling was issued.

    9:30 AM CO decision today? "Justice delayed is justice denied." stated in the courtroom yesterday for the Burns v Hickenlooper oral arguments. Judge Moore needed to rule by Friday. This AP story says he will rule today.

    "I think it's fair to say that in this topic, those who are opposing marriage equality are ultimately going to be viewed like George Wallace standing on the schoolhouse steps trying to keep people out,"……….

  • 7. ebohlman  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I must also say that both the headline and the article themselves are a bit confusing, making it look like the plaintiff couple are appealing an adverse ruling on the merits when in fact they're asking for a routine (under FL law) stay on a favorable ruling to be lifted.

  • 8. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Federal Denver District. Judge Moore. I can't find it either. Me bad. Or bad tweet from Freedom to Marry.

  • 9. Japrisot  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:25 am

  • 10. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Way to go Japrisot!

    This is Judge Harman in Colorado v. Hall in the state court.

    We are still waiting for Burns v. Hickenlooper, Judge Moore in the Denver Federal Court.

    Here is the ruling in our favor!

  • 11. Ragavendran  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I suppose the AG will now appeal this to the CO Supreme Court. I was surprised he didn't appeal the earlier denial of preliminary injunction.

  • 12. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I think I'm going to register for PACER tomorrow so that I can look it up for people here, but, Ragavendran, don't you have an account?

    Side note: I wish we could tag frequent commenters in comments. Would be very useful.

  • 13. tornado163  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I'm impressed with Judge Hartman's threading the needle by finding some legal reasoning for denying the stay even though the CO Supreme Court will almost certainly grant the stay as they already granted the stay for other counties. In fact based on everything that's happened in Colorado, it seems like the judiciary really wants to allow marriages, but feels compelled based on what the US Supreme Court did in Utah.

  • 14. samg68  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:58 am

    To be fair he has been very busy…

  • 15. Ragavendran  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I do and I use it pretty often. So do (at least) a few other commentators on this site. Nothing yet from Judge Moore in Burns.

  • 16. Ragavendran  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I wouldn't say that he's threading the needle, because the CO Supreme Court was very clear and precise in the reasoning it used to stay Adams and Denver and Judge Hartman simply pointed that out. (This is not to say that the CO Supreme Court will not stay Boulder if the AG appeals this one, just that it doesn't follow directly from their earlier order.)

  • 17. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:11 am

    "The State has simply offered no evidence of any confusion or disorder resulting from same sex couples obtaining marriage licenses in Boulder County."

    Love it!

  • 18. MichaelGrabow  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Great point. Every article I've read has referenced them being bartenders as if that is the most appropriate identifier to use. I haven't seen one mention (outside of the ruling) of the couple from here in Richmond having jobs working with autistic and disabled people as well as being a professor.

  • 19. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Thank you for checking on that. I guess I don't need a PACER account just yet.

  • 20. Bruno71  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

    It would seem it's not just the "straight press" guilty of this:… .

  • 21. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I was impressed by Judge Hartman's bluntness here.

  • 22. Zack12  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I think there is also this fact, like it or not, until they weigh in on a ruling finally striking down the ban, it IS still the law of CO.
    For them to pretend it isn't would them be going down a road they don't want to go on.

  • 23. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:21 am

    That's not the only thing.

    "Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed notice of appeal, triggering an automatic stay that prevents any gay marriages until a potentially months-long appeals process is sorted out."

    Any "gay" marriages. Because I gay park, I eat gay lunch, and I gay breathe. It's so irreverent in the wording.

  • 24. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Except for when driving and someone says "go straight." I always say that's a little too late for me and correct them that it is "gayly forward"….

  • 25. MichaelGrabow  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Yeah, I sure do wish journalists would just replace it with marriage equality.
    A. That's what it is
    B. It makes it sound like it's a new right, reinforcing the opponents argument
    C. Some who says they support "Traditional" marriage and not "gay" marriage doesn't sound terrible to a lot of people the way being opposed to marriage equality would.

  • 26. MichaelGrabow  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:30 am

    One opinion released, no Bostic.


  • 27. Bruno71  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

    On the other hand, to those that are civil rights minded, it IS about removing discrimination specifically against gay couples. We're not fighting for the right for the 2 straight guys on 2 1/2 Men to tie the knot, we're fighting for the rights of gays and lesbians. Not saying gay marriage is better than marriage equality as a term, but I don't see it as an all-bad thing to use the term that way.

  • 28. MichaelGrabow  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Good point. I guess I feel that more eyes could be opened to what this is about by not referring to it as something that is still used by people in a demeaning way. A lot of opponents would have you believe that allowing "gay marriage" will stamp out "traditional" marriage entirely, instead of having zero impact on straight people, which what has/will happen in actuality.

  • 29. SWB1987  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Ugh I know!

  • 30. SWB1987  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:58 am

    What's their deal‽ I wish we could hack into their computers and see what's going on lol

  • 31. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Hahaha. I say that too!

    Also, when someone says "I can't think straight," I say "I can't do anything straight." Gets them every time.

  • 32. ragefirewolf  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Yes, but the way the writer said "gay marriages" instead of "marriages," which would have been totally understood under the context, irks me. If it's not veiled bigotry (which the article seems to contain anyway), it's just plain sloppy writing and godawful.

  • 33. BenG1980  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has apparently filed his opening brief due today with the 7th Circuit. Has anyone found a copy available online yet?

    "Van Hollen compared gay marriage to abortion.

    'Although the constitutional right of privacy protects a woman's right to obtain an abortion and precludes government from prohibiting or punishing her exercise of that right, there is no corresponding obligation on government to affirmatively endorse or support her exercise of the abortion right,' he wrote."

    I fail to follow his logic, but I'd like to read it in full context.

  • 34. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Grrrr….okay Mr. Van Hollen. In the case of abortion whether one is pro-choice or not it is probably fair to say that something dies. Leaving aside that neither a blastocyst nor an embryo are viable life forms I can still understand why some in the anti-choice crowd get upset.

    A gay couple gets married and…who or, alternatively, what dies? Nobody and nothing, right? It's not as though the two guys, if they can't marry each other, are going to go out and find women to marry and impregnate (and likewise for lesbians. They're not going to go out and marry guys if they don't get to marry each other). The couples are still together no matter what the law says, they just don't have the access to the same legal rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex (or "different-sex" as some prefer) couples do.

    So the comparison is not only not appropriate it is entirely backwards.

  • 35. RnL2008  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Any news from Colorado or Florida? As for Van Hollen……he's simply another anti-gay bigot who knows this argument is going to fail as well!!!

  • 36. BenG1980  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Besides all that with which I completly agree, simply from a legal perspective, how does using one fundamental right (privacy) to argue against another fundamental right (marriage) make any sense at all? Neither one is explicitly written into the text of the Constitution, but SCOTUS has found them both to exist. Van Hollen would have been first in line after Roe v. Wade to decry the "creation" of a new right to abortion.

  • 37. StraightDave  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I think the point Van Hollen is trying to make, via a parallel argument, is this:
    "Although the constitutional right of privacy protects a woman's right to form a relationship of her choice and precludes government from prohibiting or punishing her exercise of that right, there is no corresponding obligation on government to affirmatively endorse or support her exercise of that right,[e.g., via a marriage license]"

    He's vainly trying to structurally map one type of right onto the other, but leaves out a lot in the process. First off, you don't need a license from the state to get an abortion. Second, the state doesn't attempt or approve or disapprove of different classes of abortion. It's a completely failed metaphor. Just looking for some half-assed excuse he thinks he can sell to bigoted judges.

  • 38. Mike_Baltimore  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    This is similar to the AP constantly saying:

    "DOMA was repealed."

    SCOTUS repealed Section 3, but not Section 2 (mainly because Section 2 was not part of the Windsor case, and SCOTUS dismissed Prop H8 [which could have caused a SCOTUS ruling on Section 2] on procedural grounds).

    I never was a big fan of the UPI (especially after it was acquired by the Moonies), but I did appreciate one of its tenets – "Get it first, but first get it right." From my experience, AP rarely gets it totally and factualy right, especially the past 5 or so years.

  • 39. Margo Schulter  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    StraightDave, the intended analogy as I might guess it is to say that Lawrence v. Texas (2003) protects the right to LGBT sexual activity, just as Roe v. Wade (1973) protects a woman’s right to decide on abortion with her doctor, without the state interfering in either situation, and especially not by the criminal law. However, the argument might be, just as the state is not necessarily required to fund abortion, so it need not approve or ratify same-sex relationships by including them in marriage.

    One of the big problems, of course, is that marriage is a fundamental right. And one might add that, especially once a government chooses to fund or become involved in mandating or providing healthcare or health insurance, discrimination against reproductive services can raise a range of constitutional issues, not to speak of concerns from a feminist perspective.

  • 40. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    To be honest I'm not sure what bothers me more: is it that what the AP says is flat out incorrect or that they are pitching things to a level of understanding they think (perhaps correctly) is appropriate for their audience.

    Only Congress can actually repeal an enacted law. Section 3 was struck down as unconstitutional and is arguably the only really important of DOMA anyway. Section 1 is the title; Section 2 makes a provision that is essentially meaningless or, at worst, unenforceable (because the entire body of rulings culminating with Windsor makes it clear that a classification made for its own sake just won't fly. So I suppose that AP would feel comfortable saying "DOMA was repealed" because as far as most people are concerned that is what happened.

  • 41. Eric  |  July 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Well, since gay men have the lowest abortion rates, at least he won't be arguing that gays make bad parents.

  • 42. Eric  |  July 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Fundamental rights don't need to be explicitly written into the Constitution (a document that limits government, not the People), they are covered by the Ninth Amendment.

  • 43. ebohlman  |  July 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Yes. The real key here is that it's simply not possible, in either practice or theory, for a couple to become legally married without some action on the part of the government. This is not the case, at least in theory, for abortion (I acknowledge that there are cases where, for financial reasons, it's not practical for some women to obtain abortions without government assistance. But the same could be said about housing, or food, or education). A better comparison would be the right to vote. The right to marry really behaves more like a "negative right" than a "positive right".

  • 44. Fledge01  |  July 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Its even more simple: He says the right to an abortion precludes the government from prohibiting or punishing the abortion. Let's compare that to ME in Wisconsin. 1) The WI government punishes WI residents who go out of state to get to have a gay marriage. 2) By denying marriage licenses, it effectively prohibits gay marriage.

    He goes on to say the government does not have to support or endorse abortions. Compare to ME: 1) No one is asking for government endorsement of gay marriage in WI, just to stop prohibiting it. The government doesn't endorse children eating junk food, but it gives licenses to food vendors who serve junk food to operate in schools. It doesn't endorse felons getting married while in jail, but it allows it. 2) The only support that is needed by the government is the least amount of support necessary that will allow the government to avoid effectively prohibiting gay marriage. Anything less than allowing gay couples to get the same piece of paper allowed to straight couples has the "effect" of prohibiting ME.

    Uttering the word "no" to a gay couple at the county clerks office is a government action that prohibits ME. There is no other way to allow gay marriage in WI except for the government to simply stop saying the words "no." This simple action is the action that is the least restrictive on the WI government to remove the prohibition of ME. Can the AG think of any other way for gay couples to exercise their right to marry the same way women can exercise their right to an abortion? No, other than removing the state requirement for any married couple to first acquire a marriage license from the state.

  • 45. brandall  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    FL Update: Appeal court denies request to lift stay

    This is the Monroe County case.

  • 46. SeattleRobin  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Others already made some good points on the extremely flawed logic. I'd add that issuing a marriage license isn't the state endorsing that specific marriage.

    The state endorses marriage as an institution because it helps serve the public good. But endorsing the institution is not at all the same thing as endorsing all individuals participating in it.

    There are plenty of straight people who marry where I am sure the state disapproves. The state is only issuing a license to the couple because it's their right as citizens to marry. The state issuing a marriage license to two women is no more an endorsement of their personal choices than issuing a license to a man and a woman who decide to have ten children is an endorsement of theirs.

  • 47. DoctorHeimlich  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    The ruling in Colorado we all expected. (Though unfortunately, with the stay we all probably expected too.)

    Updated with the actual opinion:

  • 48. BenG1980  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Right, but conservatives/strict constructionists/originalists like Justice Scalia (and, I would assume, Van Hollen) have long railed against what they consider to be the "discovery" of fundamental rights "within the protected penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights" that are not explicitly written in the Constitution (quoting Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965).

    I have yet to read the brief, but I'm guessing it contradicts itself by acknowledging the right to privacy in its various forms (e.g., abortion and contraception) while simultaneously seeking to limit the applicability of the right to marry.

  • 49. JoshLmno  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Yay for the decision, boo for the stay :s

  • 50. DoctorHeimlich  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    The judge does at least get a couple of nice digs in on the issuance of all these stays:

    The Court agrees that in same-sex marriage cases the federal courts appear to have often put aside the accepted standards they have been repeatedly directed to apply or, as the case may be, directed the lower federal courts to apply.

    And later…

    Based on the most recent stay, it appears to the Court that it may well be that a message is being sent by the Supreme Court. But this Court is not some modern day haruspex skilled in the art of divination.

  • 51. Bruno71  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    The winning streak continues. Hope it doesn't end.

  • 52. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I attempted to post the comment below but had to log out and log back in…I'm gonna post it anyway.

    What strikes me as odd (not necessarily in a bad way) is that Judge Moore's decision deals almost entirely with the merits of a stay rather than on the more substantive issue of whether or not the plaintiffs have made their case. The latter is essentially accepted as a given. He also notes, as has been done in other courts, that the current practice of staying rulings that advance the cause of marriage equality don't really seem to be following Supreme Court guidance for issuing stays.

  • 53. sfbob  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Yes I liked that.

  • 54. BenG1980  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Interestingly, though, it's only a one-month stay until August 25, and not the more customary stay pending appeal which would last indefinitely until the 10th Circuit ruled in the case or even a stay pending final disposition of Kitchen as was being sought by the state.

  • 55. DoctorHeimlich  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    There really wasn't much for him to discuss regarding the underlying issue. First, being a lower court within the 10th Circuit, his judgment is bound by Kitchen and Bishop. Second, during the hearing, the state defendants offered no argument for upholding the ban — they simply said, "we all know another case is going to decide this, so just put everything on hold."

  • 56. BenG1980  |  July 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Finally found the brief:

  • 57. StraightDave  |  July 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    It's rare for my favorite line to come in a footnote, but #1 on page 2 earns top spot today.

    "Pennsylvania and Colorado present Alice in Wonderland plotlines that are instructive to this Court's denial of a stay."

  • 58. SoCal_Dave  |  July 23, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you, judge, for introducing me to the word haruspex. 😉

  • 59. FredDorner  |  July 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    After DOMA was overturned I'm not sure what possible argument could be made for "marriage-like" rights at the state level which lack all the federal rights of marriage, unless both gays and straights alike have access to marriage and/or civil unions.

  • 60. SeattleRobin  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    If you logged out and back in because of that session timed out message, usually just reloading the page takes care of it. It's happened to me enough times that I've learned to copy what I've written before clicking on the submit button. If it goes through great. If I get the timed out thing I reload the page and then paste it back into the posting window. (Heh, it just happened now when I tried to post this.)

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