Maryland lawmakers urge Obama to issue LGBT employment protections

More than half of the members of Maryland's congressional delegation signed a letter dated March 18 to President Barack Obama asking him to issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes, John Delaney and Chris Van Hollen were among the 195 Democrats to urge Obama to issue protections for LGBT employees.

"This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor," the letter, which was signed by 47 senators and 148 members of the House, reads.

The letter comes as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the Senate last year, remains stalled in the House. An executive order issued by Obama would apply ENDA's protections to government contractors, while ENDA would apply to all employers.

U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, Donna Edwards, Andy Harris and Dutch Ruppersberger did not sign the letter -- though Edwards did sign a similar letter in 2013.

Edwards’ press secretary Benjamin Gerdes said Edwards did not have a chance to review this year’s letter before the signing deadline but would have otherwise signed on.

“Nothing in her position has changed,” Gerdes said.

Ruppersberger's chief of staff Tara Oursler cited similar time constraints, as did Cummings.

"Although this letter was sent to President Obama before I was able to add my name, I am sending my own letter to the President on this subject," Cummings said in a statement. "Federal contractors should not be permitted to discriminate against LGBT employees, and an Executive Order from the President would provide an immediate solution to such discrimination."

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