February 17, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Gay philanthropist endorses ENDA executive order

David Bohnett (Photo by Matthew Imaging via Wikimedia Commons)

A gay philanthropist and major donor to the Democratic Party has endorsed the idea of an executive order requiring federal contractors to have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.

David Bohnett, who made billions after selling his Internet creation GeoCities in 1990s, chairs the David Bohnett Foundation, a grant-making organization with the stated goal of improving society through activism.

In an email to the Washington Blade, Michael Fleming, who advises Bohnett on political and philanthropic giving, confirmed Bohnett backs the idea of President Obama issuing this directive.

“I will say that David is fully supportive of the President signing an LGBT-inclusive federal contractor executive order as soon as possible, because LGBT people continue to face high rates of workplace discrimination,” Fleming said. “It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

Bohnett was among the attendees last week at the $35,800 per ticket LGBT fundraiser in D.C.  that raised $1.4 million for President Obama’s re-election. Obama and Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius were in attendance.

In response to a question on whether Bohnett raised the issue of the executive order with the president at this fundraiser, Fleming said any conversation Bohnett may have had with Obama is private.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work and among the chief advocates of the directive, praised Bohnett for throwing his support behind the executive order.

“David Bohnett has an impressive record of speaking up for positive change, and I think it is very significant that he has now publicly endorsed the proposed executive order banning federal contractors from squandering our taxpayer dollars on harassment against LGBT Americans,” Almeida said. “I imagine that as a successful entrepreneur, Mr. Bohnett knows well that banning LGBT workplace discrimination is both good for a company’s bottom line, as well as the morally right thing to do.”

Because the measure is similar in its goal to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the directive has sometimes been referred to as the “ENDA” executive order, although the order would be more limited in scope because it only affects federal contractors. Multiple sources have said the Labor and Justice Departments have cleared such a measure, but the White House hasn’t said whether Obama will issue the directive.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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