Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Reps. Pocan, Hanna Urge President Obama to Prohibit LGBT Discrimination in Government Contracting

Jul 14, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) led a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to direct all federal agencies to prohibit discrimination in federal government contracting and subcontracting based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the business owner.

In the letter, the members write, “There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in the United States – in Congressional districts in all 50 states – that represent an untapped well of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. However, no protections exist to prohibit discrimination against these businesses in federal procurement.”

The letter was also signed by Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Loften (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Scott Peters (D-CA), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), John Yarmuth (D-KY), and Katherine Clark (D-MA).

The text of the letter is below and a signed copy can be found here.

Dear Mr. President:

As Members of Congress who believe in the right for all to participate fully in our society and economy, we believe it is time to level the playing field in federal contracting so that all LGBT-owned businesses can compete for contracting opportunities without fear of discrimination. We respectfully urge you to direct all federal agencies to prohibit discrimination in federal government contracting and subcontracting based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the business owner.

There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in the United States – in Congressional districts in all 50 states – that represent an untapped well of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. However, no protections exist to prohibit discrimination against these businesses in federal procurement. The history of discrimination against LGBT individuals by the federal government and lack of any protections for LGBT-owned businesses perpetuate a sense among these businesses that the federal government is not open to them, and among major federal contractors that seeking out LGBT-owned suppliers is not necessary.

LGBT-owned businesses have much to contribute and gain from federal government contracting opportunities. Ensuring that no barriers exist for LGBT-owned businesses in federal contracting will also benefit the federal government and American taxpayers by creating a larger and more visible pool of diverse suppliers who can provide goods and services to the federal government. It will also provide prime federal contractors with more options to find subcontractors that provide good value.

Your Administration has already taken significant steps to ensure there is LGBT equality in federal contracting, particularly as it related to the employees of federal contractors.  Now it is time to finish the job and ensure that contractors and subcontractors themselves cannot face discrimination either.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the federal government is clearly opening its doors for business with the LGBT community.

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