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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Issue Brief: The Need for an Executive Order

The Bottom Line

American taxpayers send almost $300 billion per year in federal contract dollars to businesses in states that have not yet passed laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination. In fact, a substantial majority (60%) of the 25 states in which businesses received $5 billion or more in federal contracts in 2012 have no employment protections based on sexual orientation. And more than two-thirds of those states (68%) have no employment nondiscrimination laws explicitly covering gender identity.

This discrimination with taxpayer money is a lose/lose proposition for taxpayers and LGBT workers—and it breaks America’s basic bargain that workers will judged and rewarded based on their contributions and capabilities. The new Issue Brief: The Need for an Executive Order—co-authored by MAP, the Center for American Progress, Freedom to Work, the Human Rights Campaign, and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates—looks at how an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers would extend protections to an additional 16 million workers, and would cover more than 20% of the U.S. civilian workforce.

  • Issue Brief: The Need for an Executive Order Download

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