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Black background with gay pride flag shaped in a heart, with the words '2016 Pride Inside and Out, LGBT Pride Month'

June is Pride Month and each year we set aside this month to reaffirm our commitment to equal opportunity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. As the nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government sets an example and tone for all other employers, an example that reinforces the fact that employment discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is simply unacceptable.

This June, across the Federal family and throughout the nation, Americans are grieving and angry at the horrific massacre at a nightclub in Orlando. As the President said in the aftermath of the shootings:  “As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”

All of our people.

As Federal employees and as Americans, we will stand together and refuse to allow the brutal murders in Orlando to deter us. This is a time for the Federal community to come together, to support each other, and to not let this tragedy lessen our resolve to continue the important work of promoting equal opportunity and preventing discrimination.

At OPM we have been at the forefront of implementing Administration policy and court decisions that expand rights for the LGBT community. When the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that the Federal Government must recognize same-sex marriages in states where they were allowed, OPM was the first agency to roll out benefits. Even before the Windsor decision, OPM spearheaded and effort to expand agencies’ ability to extend benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees and their children where the law would permit.

The President also issued an Executive Order making it clear that Federal employees and employees of Federal contractors are protected from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

President Obama spoke of this commitment in his Pride Month proclamation: “There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts -- that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character.”

We still have work to do and it would be a disservice to the LGBT community – as well as all minority communities – to suggest that discrimination is a thing of the past. But here at OPM we are committed to doing everything possible to prevent any discrimination in our Federal workplaces. We have worked to make sure LGBT employees have the same rights and benefits as all Federal employees. From health insurance to leave to care for a same-sex partner when they are sick, our hope is to make sure that no Federal employee ever receives unequal treatment.

We also want to make sure that members of the LGBT community and all Federal employees who experience any type of discrimination in the Federal workplace know their options for recourse. That is why on June 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.  OPM will be hosting an event at its headquarters entitled “Addressing LGBT Discrimination in Federal Employment.” The program will also be webcast. We hope you will join us as representatives from the Equal Opportunity Employment Council, Office of Special Counsel, and OPM discuss what protections exist and how to handle any discrimination that you may experience in the workplace.

Not only is discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity illegal, it also diminishes the Federal Government’s ability to hire, retain, and promote a talented workforce. I urge everyone to take time this month – and every month throughout the year- to support the members of the LGBT community all across this country who work to eliminate and prevent discrimination everywhere.


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