Reform Jewish Movement Disappointed by President's Decision on Employment Discrimination
Rabbi David Saperstein: By making clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable, the government can play a transformational role.
Washington, D.C. April 16,, 2012 - Last week, the Obama administration announced that the President will not sign an executive prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement in response:
"We are disappointed by President Obama's decision to not sign an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by government contractors. A study by the Center for American Progress found that up to 43 percent of gay Americans have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment; this number is significantly higher for transgender Americans (90%). The federal government is by far the nation's largest employer and through its actions sets an example for other employers to follow. By making clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable, the government can play a transformational role. Moreover, polling shows that large majorities of Americans of all political stripes support anti-discrimination provisions inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Our holy texts teach us that all people are created b'tselem Elohim (in the Divine image) (Gen. 1:27), and as such are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. We are inspired by our faith and history to stand up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, for we have known the experience of being victims of group hatred, persecution, and discrimination. We feel a keen empathy for those who can still be victimized, deprived of opportunities, and discriminated against, including in the workplace, because of who they are.
We urge the President to reconsider this decision and fulfill his commitment to ensuring a future in which all Americans are treated with dignity and respect."