By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
President Barack Obama on Thursday marked Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month by calling on Congress to pass legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians and others. “I want to sign that bill,” he said.
Obama said such bias is wrong and must end. He said that in more than 30 states people can be fired because of who they are or who they love. He said legislation pending in Congress would end workplace discrimination “now and forever” against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender individuals.
“We need to get that passed. I want to sign that bill. We need to get it done now,” Obama said at a reception in the White House East Room.
Obama was referring to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and others.
Similar bills are pending at the committee level in the House and Senate.
At the reception, Obama recited some of what his administration has done for gays and lesbians, including enacting a hate crimes law, including LGBT victims in the Violence Against Women Act and requiring hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid to treat LGBT patients the same as other patients.
But he said there is more work to do.
“Part of the reason we’re here is because we know we’re not done yet,” said Obama, who last year became the first sitting president to declare his support for gay marriage.
Gay rights advocates have been pushing for Obama to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from anti-gay discrimination in the workplace. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the administration favors the legislative approach.