In 29 states it is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation; if you include gender identity, the count rises to 34 states (source: HRC). I live in one of those states, North Carolina.

You’d think that if 73 percent of Americans support an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT employees by federal contractors, the White House would have no fear of extending these protections, which would tremendously help LGBTs in states where there are no anti-discrimination laws covering them, but this President, whose executive order pen is in use quite frequently on all sorts of matters, has been dormant on the desk.

Today, 37 U.S. Senators signed a letter — led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, urging Barack Obama to pick that pen up and use it. Doing this should be a no brainer as a strong majority — 57 percent — of Fortune 500 companies already have inclusive anti-discrimination policies in place. Human Rights Campaign (HRC):

“An executive order from President Obama would ensure that hundreds of thousands of LGBT federal contract employees could go to work every day without fear of being fired for who they are or who they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “I am grateful to these leaders in the Senate for speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans who want nothing more than a fair shot at a job.”

Federal contractors employ more than 20 percent of the American workforce and earn around $500 billion from federal taxpayers every year. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors would extend equal workplace rights to more than 16 million workers, and would help ensure that they are not forced into the ranks of the unemployed based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“It’s outrageous that in the year 2013, it is still legal to fire someone based on who they love,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “The President can protect millions of workers from unfair discrimination with the stroke of a pen. I’m pleased that 36 of my colleagues have joined together to push for more equality in the workplace.”

Via Buzzfeed, the Executive Order Letter – 02-14-13 by Chris Geidner