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As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, I want to proudly reinforce my continued commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of our Federal family, and recognize the incredible contributions this community has made in service to the American people.
We better serve the American people when our Federal workforce draws from and honors the unique talents and experiences of individuals from every community across this great country. Though we tackle tough challenges each and every day, the diversity of thought, opinion, and experience drives the creativity and ingenuity we need to get our vital work done. And our LGBT colleagues are instrumental in helping agencies fulfill their service-driven missions.
I realize that it’s not enough to simply recognize and honor the contributions of this community when more work still needs to be done to build a more fair and equal society for LGBT Americans. As the President’s chief human resources official, I want to make it clear that the Federal Government does not and will not condone workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Federal employees.
That’s why I’m so excited to announce that the Office of Personnel Management is joining our partners at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit System Protections Board, and the Office of Special Counsel to release an updated guide titled “Addressing Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Federal Civilian Employment: A Guide to Employment Rights, Protections, and Responsibilities.” This informative resource will help LGBT Federal employees make more informed choices about how best to pursue their individual claims when they believe they have suffered from discrimination.
At OPM, we continue to look for ways in which we can make our policies more equitable and fair for our entire Federal family, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We do this not just because it makes good business sense, but also because as a model employer, it’s simply the right thing to do.
As the President says in his LGBT Pride Month proclamation:
“All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.”
I could not agree more.
I love delivering good news. Last week, I had the honor of recapping the Administration’s civil rights accomplishments to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.
The chamber’s annual meeting was sold out. I stopped in to talk to them about what a great week we had just had. It had started with President Obama signing the Executive Order that makes clear that Federal employees and Federal contractors can come to work each and every day without fear of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The week ended with the release of OPM’s update of the Title V discrimination regulations. These new rules make it crystal clear that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination and is against the law.
I think about how far we’ve come. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed. We ended the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court ruled in United States vs. Windsor that the Federal government must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples. The President signed historic hate crimes legislation into law. The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to health coverage, and in the process we addressed LGBT health care disparities.
But this conversation is about more than policy fixes and court decisions and legislation. What we are witnessing is a sea change in the way the United States of America treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
This is personal. This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. What we have done under this President is a defining civil rights accomplishment of this generation.
As director of OPM, I am so proud of the work that our employees do every day to make sure that our LGBT brothers and sisters are not denied access to health, retirement or life insurance benefits or the Family and Medical Leave Act simply because of who they are and who they love.
I know we have more work to do. As the President said in his proclamation declaring June LGBT Pride Month: “We celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”
But we sure have made a great start!
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