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Obama issues executive order to end discrimination on sexual orientation

President Obama announced on June 20, 2014 that he has signed an executive order to end discrimination in hiring based upon sexual orientation for federal contractors.

President Obama signs executive order against sexual discrimination
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This action reflects the lack of cooperation among Democrats and Republicans in Congress to remove employment barriers based upon sexual orientation. The executive order will apply to private enterprises that are engaged in doing US government contracts.

The Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) has failed to apply the 14th amendment clauses of due process and equal protection to same-gender marriages that it did in Loving versus Virginia in 1967 for ending mixed race marriage laws across the US.

While there have been no federal laws enacted in Congress to end discrimination based upon sexual orientation, 21 states and the District of Columbia ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The other 29 states are still legally able to fire, demote or otherwise discriminate against workers based upon their sexual orientation.

The failure of Congress to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is the reason quoted by President Obama in signing the executive order. While ENDA would apply to all sectors and all states, the executive order is restricted to federal contracts only.

Ohio has the following statue in place regarding business conduct with regard to discrimination.

The Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Equal Opportunity Division enforces federal and state laws prohibiting employment discrimination for agencies under the purview of the governor. These laws protect employees and employment candidates against employment discrimination when it involves:

  • Unfair treatment because of an employee or applicant's age, color, disability, gender, genetic information, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Harassment by managers because of an employee or applicant's age, color, disability, gender, genetic information, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

While this law against discrimination based upon sexual orientation is in place in Ohio, it did not protect Carla Hale from being fired by the Archdiocese of Columbus from her job at Bishop Watterson high school when Hale disclosed that she had a same-gender partner in her mother’s published obituary. The Archdiocese said that Hale did not follow requirements for moral conduct among teachers. It was clearly based upon Hale's sexual orientation.

It is not clear that ENDA would be applied to religious institutions. Churches are a powerful lobby force in Washington. SCOTUS has ignored the 1st amendment separation of church and state to the extent that the amendment is now ignored down to the local levels of government.

You can learn more about the implications of President Obama's executive order for an article by Gabriel Arana that was published on June 17, 2014 in the on-line news organization Salon. The article is titled Obama's new pro-LGBT executive order; 9 things you should know.

Spiritualist churches have been among the first to accept same-gender marriages and commitment ceremonies. Ohio formally defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. There is continuing pressure at the lower federal court level to end the prohibition of same-gender marriages, and discrimination based upon sexual orientation throughout the US.

The federal court in Cincinnati has made decisions regarding recognition of same-gender marriages performed in states where these marriages are lawful. There is continuing pressure to make same-gender marriages legal in Ohio. The enforcement of the prohibition against discrimination of Ohio employers has not happened yet in religious organizations.

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