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By Marianne LeVine, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees and prohibiting discrimination against federal workers who identify as transgender.

“In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender can still be a fireable offense,” Obama said. “I firmly believe it’s time to address this injustice for every American.”

Obama’s two-part directive will amend an existing executive order that was issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The new order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to this list.

The directive also amends another existing executive order, issued by President Nixon in 1969, by adding gender identity to a list of categories protected against federal workplace discrimination. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation to this list in 1998.

Last Friday, senior administration officials said that the executive order would affect 24,000 companies.

Obama also called for pressure on members of Congress to implement federal legislation barring workplace discrimination against all gay and transgender employees.

“Congress has spent four decades, 40 years, considering legislation that would help solve the problem,” he said. “And yet they still haven’t gotten it done.”

The president received praise from members of Congress and human rights groups for the new orders.

“Today’s executive order signing is another big step toward equality for the LGBT community,” said Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), a supporter of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would bar all workplace discrimination against LGBT employees.

“Now, all federal workers will be judged on whether or not they do their job and not on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said in a statement.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT civil rights group, described the orders as “unprecedented and historic” and asked that the House vote on ENDA, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support last November.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.


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Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.


Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.