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Obama Will Not Sign Executive Order Banning LGBT Workplace Discrimination in Near Future

President Obama will not sign an executive order barring workplace discrimination against LGBT people in the immediate future, according to reports emerging after a high-level meeting at the White House this afternoon. Among those attending were Winnie Stachelberg, of Center for American Progress, Rea Carey, of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Tico Almeida, of Freedom to Work, Joe Solmonese and David Smith, of the Human Rights Campaign, and gay Democratic lobbyists Steve Elmendorf and Robert Raben, MetroWeekly's Chris Geidner reports.

ObamaThose attending the meeting have been pushing for months for such an order from Obama.

HRC's Solmonese released a statement:

Earlier today, we were told that the Administration is not ready to move forward with a federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order at this time.  We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender. Given the number of employees that would be covered by this executive order, it represents a critical step forward.
Ten years of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, as well as the research of our partner organizations to include the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, demonstrate that there is ample rationale for this kind of order. No similar executive order has ever had this kind of extensive research or factual basis established. While we believe that further study is unnecessary, we will continue to engage with the Administration to ensure that the case is made even stronger for workplace protections.

The White House said it had alternative plans, though the details were not disclosed:

Of the White House effort, Stachelberg says, "The White House will instead launch a multipronged effort to better address workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans. However, just as Congress should pass ENDA now, the President should now use his executive authority to extend existing nondiscrimination requirements of federal contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity."

The proposed expansion of the federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity had reportedly been approved by the Labor Department but according to Geidner, the White House is unwilling to take that step before the election.

Said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement: "The President is dedicated to securing equal rights for LGBT Americans and that is why he has long supported an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The President is committed to lasting and comprehensive change and therefore our goal is passage of ENDA, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination -- just as the President pressed for legislative repeal of DADT."

StachelbergStachelberg issued a statement expressing disappointment in the White House decision:

Today’s news that the White House will launch a multipronged effort to address workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, rather than immediately issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to have sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination polices, is disappointing.

These types of policies are supported by nearly 75 percent of Americans, many of the nation's largest and most prominent Fortune 500 corporations, and nearly two-thirds of all small business owners, based on findings from a 2011 Center for American Progress survey. It has been shown time and time again through research conducted by this organization and others like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Williams Institute, that gay and transgender people face disproportionately high rates of discrimination in the workplace and that policies that protect employees are also good for business and the economy at large.

Just as Congress should pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act now, the president should now also use his executive authority to extend existing nondiscrimination requirements of federal contractors to cover workers who are gay and transgender.

NOTE: MetroWeekly reported earlier that the White House would not sign an order before election day. They've updated their story and no time frame was named.

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  1. Jack, Ernie, Vanndeen, Mary and even Rick (the Real Rick which is what he should change his name to, the other is a total sicko) make the best sense. Be cautious, be smart, don't push it, our time is on track (bide it), go for more Dems and liberal judges. For God's sake forget about the Greens. This election is going to get really ugly on the gay issues alone, and especially around the incomprehensible transexuals (as they often are to Joe the Plumber et al).

    And who else is so relieved that Little Kiwi has posted nothing, maybe he finally had to get a job.

    This Captcha is awful.

    Posted by: uffda | Apr 12, 2012 8:45:33 AM

  2. Thank you, Jerry.

    This all boils down to the Supreme Court. President Obama has put two phenomenal individuals there and November's victor may have the opportunity to nominate 2-3 more.

    Etch-a-Sketch is hard to read on LGBT equality, but he's most likely going to appoint hardcore conservative judges that make Citizens United type things a reality - a Kennedy-type appointment at best.

    We're going to win our equality in the courts. Let's do what we can to get the best people there. That means voting for President Obama. Not Green Party, not a nobody, not staying home.

    Posted by: kpo5 | Apr 12, 2012 8:53:27 AM

  3. "Oh, and one other thing: Obama ended DADT, so he's gonna get painted as a pro-gay by the Republicans anyway, so why not sign the executive order?"

    There's the presumption that the Obama administration is only not signing an executive order for political reasons--that it's only defense against Republicans. A mistaken presumption. Certainly politics play into any decision a President makes in an election year, but there are also valid arguments against executive orders--which, by their nature, are not permanent and invite genuine criticism of a President overreaching without Congressional support.

    It's easy--and simplistic--to say the President's claim of preferring "a lasting and comprehensive change" (i.e. ENDA) is campaign BS, but that has always been his strategy--consensus on DADT and behind the scenes preparation via his DOJ on dismantling DOMA, the latter probably the most important step his administration has taken in favor of gay rights and it's received hardly any attention.

    Making progress on gay rights either with consensus or off the political radar screen is very smart--it just means you'll be criticized for doing too little or nothing by people who are less smart.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 12, 2012 9:56:50 AM

  4. For all we know, Obama's re-election team might be playing hardball behind the scenes with gay activists, especially the well-monied ones who attend HRC events and whatnot: "OK, I've signed the Hate Crimes Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell--two pieces of legislation that have been fermenting for around 15 years. I'll sign ENDA and do something for marriage equality in the second term--but I need you guys' financial support and assistance NOW, because the Republicans are going to come at you, me, and us with a billion dollars worth of ugliness, and unless I can get the White House back, all of this conversation is moot."

    I freely confess that I've been ignoring Obama campaign callers during dinner and haven't yet donated to the re-election campaign; this weekend I'm going to send in a few bucks, because I feel like I'm now in the "put up or shut up" place. And yes, I agree with the above posters: please, for the love of God and the Supreme Court, don't vote Green in this election. The overwhelming success conservatives have had in the past 20-30 years has largely been due to 5-4 decisions from the Supreme Court (Bush vs. Gore, Citizens United, the new right to strip search arrestees for ANYTHING), and it's only been Obama's appointments of Kagen and Sotomayor that have kept the bulwark in place. If Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Ginsberg, or Stevens step down, it's potentially a whole new ball game--and these are the people who may rule on same-sex marriage for the next few decades. A vote for Obama is a vote for the Supreme Court recognizing our rights.

    Posted by: Dback | Apr 12, 2012 10:16:28 AM

  5. @Ernie As I have noted before, you are a partisan Democrat and if push comes to shove, you will place the interests of the Democratic Party before the interests of gay people....not that you are the only one.

    DADT repeal actually happened because the Pentagon feared a lawsuit that would force it anyway, without them having time to prepare for the change. But for that, Obama would have done nothing, as has been the case with every other gay rights issue.

    Your (and others') point about the Supreme Court is just an implicit acknowledgement that neither Obama nor the Democrats in Congress will ever take any action on gay rights unless there is a situation such as existed with DADT repeal. And I have news for you and others: There is no way on earth that Thomas, Alito, Scalia, or Roberts would retire if Obama is re-elected, so, at best, the only difference he would make in the ideological balance on the court would be if Kennedy retired--and I doubt he would, either--he is basically a conservative and knows that if Obama replaced him, it would shift the balance too much. So that argument holds no water, either.

    All that aside, though, the larger bottom line is this: In the 50-60 years since the gay movement began, Democrats have done virtually nothing to advance gay rights at the Federal level, this despite having had control of both houses of Congress for most of that time....and there is no reason to think they will do anything if they were to re-gain control again (which they are not going to anyway in 2012).

    There needs to be a viable gay presence in both parties for clout to really be exercised--and that is why those of you who hammer away at gay Republicans for trying to build that presence in the other party are severely misguided. When both parties have to compete for the votes of a group, they pay attention to that group. But when one party owns that group, they can take them for granted--and the other party can attack that group without any fear of consequences, since they have nothing to lose by doing so--which is exactly the situation that exists now.

    Politics is like life in general--people will only do something significant for you if they either love you or fear you--and unfortunately, gay people are neither loved nor feared by the general public or by the political parties......and if you don't find a way to make them do one or the other, we will see another 50 years of apathy from the Democrats and hostility from the Republicans.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 12, 2012 10:37:29 AM

  6. One other point re: the staying power of Executive Orders. Lyndon Johnson's executive order barring racial discrimination among Federal contractors a) survived Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and both Bushes, and b) was arguably far more effective than the civil rights legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in employment that passed later, in part because it was more enforceable (no lawsuits are needed to enforce rules applying to Federal contractors, whereas they are when it comes to violations of civil rights laws)

    So those of you trying to rationalize away Obama's failure to act really do not have all the facts on your side--ENDA executive order vs. ENDA act of Congress is a false dichotomy....there is no reason why one should be considered a replacement for the other.....and that whole line of reasoning is really a big cover-up on the part of activists who have been unable to get either to come to fruition, but who want to make excuses for the Democrats' refusal to act.

    P.S. @UFFDA I am sure the impostor is Little Kiwi.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 12, 2012 10:50:58 AM

  7. 1) An executive order on gay discrimination in the work place is a two prong re-election problem. First, executive orders can just be overturned and can be seen as usurping the power of the legislative branch and giving it to the executive branch. Though every president uses them, it will be sure fire ammo for the GOP to knock Obama as a totalitarian socialist who has no regard for the US constitution. And why is he usurping legislative authority? To further the left-wing gay agenda while ignoring the dire economic issues that the middle class and poor are facing. (This is what they will campaign against…it will have traction with the independent voters in the swing states, I promise.)

    2) Obama has never been in support of executive orders, federal gay marriage, or of pursuing civil rights achievements from the executive pulpit. He has always been for leaving the repeal of DOMA and DADT to the legislative branch of government. He has always been for leading congress down the right path for all civil rights legislation. He isn’t anti-gay marriage. He stands for states’ rights on dictating marriage laws (which is how “straight” marriage laws are governed) and leaving it to the courts to solve unconstitutionality. You know, the way our government is set up by the US Constitution. We can’t on one hand decry our being treated unequally and then turn around a demand special treatment. Federal recognition of Marriage (notice I didn’t say gay) should be the same for all citizens no matter sexuality, race, creed, etc… DOMA needs to be repealed by congress to stop defining marriage as man + women and the federal government will have to accept all state legalized marriages. As for states that ban gay marriage, I’m afraid it’s up the US judicial branch to overturn unconstitutional legislation…just like most other civil rights issues.

    3) Without a democratic led executive or legislative branch all of this is impossible. The amazing progress we have made as a community will suddenly stop like the wheels of the American economy in 2008. It will be a great recession of our civil rights movement with a pro-GOP (led by Romney puppet) federal government. The biggest setback will be Kennedy (the swing vote) and Ginsburg (the true liberal) being replaced by conservative judges that will serve for life. Good by marriage equality.

    Posted by: DRG | Apr 12, 2012 10:55:43 AM

  8. rights isn't our only issue here. If you are really an american, i would think you might give thought to the many other issues effecting our nation. the GOP sucks for these as well.

    Posted by: DRG | Apr 12, 2012 10:58:02 AM

  9. Anyone who thinks well of Romney really needs to click on this link:

    This is Romney revealing his soul to a very private gathering of friends and fellow congregation members, far from the prying eyes of the media. Too bad at least four of his fellow congregation members ratted on him, and his long, anti-gay tirade about how being gay is "perverse" and "reprehensible" landed on the pages of the Boston Globe, much to Romney's chagrin.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Apr 12, 2012 11:04:12 AM

  10. Don't want to hear any of the "wait until next term" baloney. He ran on promises of being a "fierce advocate" and hasn't lived up to those promises yet. What the hell reason do I have to believe that he will do so if he gets re-elected?

    I voted for you, and I expect you to live up to your word NOW, not say "wait 4 years and if I get re-elected then you can have what you want."

    He's no different than any other partisan career politician. He's in it for power and personal gain. I don't trust his "evolving views" any more than I trust a priest in a day care center.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 12, 2012 11:09:21 AM

  11. Rick, sorry, but you're out of touch with current political realities. All pro-gay civil rights progress at the state and federal level is due to a Democratic majority. It's true in my home state, where we have full equality at the state level, and it will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. And we're at a tipping point. President Obama will support our issues in his second term because, as a mainstream Democrat, he will have no choice; to ignore the civil rights issue of our time will put an unacceptable stain on his legacy. The political landscape has changed remarkably in the last decade, even the last 5 years--but only in Democrat-majority states.

    I'm an unapologetic Democrat because on the issues I care about, Democrats are close to my positions, Republicans are--with a few rare exceptions--not. I would never "hammer away" at the few Republicans who support gay rights. On the contrary, I--and most smart gay people--would go out of my way to support them, even if I disagree with them on other issues. The handful of pro-gay Republicans in states like VT, NH, NY have generally been shunned by the right wing of the Republican party and have been embraced by moderates of both parties.

    The fact remains under a Republican president DADT would not have happened, the DOJ would still be vigorously defending DOMA, and the Supreme Court would further tilt towards the activist right. Contrary to your daily assertions, the culture is rapidly changing, and a majority of the current Democratic party is evolving with the culture, whereas a majority of the current Republican party (with a few welcome northeast exceptions) is devolving into a make-believe return to the 1950s.

    Partisan, you bet! For good reason. But any Republicans, including all those former closet cases who worked against us for years before they started working for us, who are gay-supportive, whatever their past histories, are welcome in my world. I just don't want to marry them, but that's ok.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 12, 2012 11:15:00 AM

  12. I agree with Obama. Now is not the time to push anything that does not appeal to the middle, specifically Independents. He accomplished a lot on gay rights, and now is the time to woo the middle. It's not time to focus on divisive issues that may alienate voters in swing or Heartland states. The second term is for bold actions, not now. Well played, Mr. President.

    Posted by: Javier | Apr 12, 2012 11:20:12 AM

  13. "President Obama will support our issues in his second term because, as a mainstream Democrat, he will have no choice; to ignore the civil rights issue of our time will put an unacceptable stain on his legacy."

    Nothing but wishful thinking, there.

    And a mis-reading on your part of how most people feel about gays.

    Hardly anybody who is not gay, himself, cares passionately about gay rights--and that is a reflection of the deep ambivalence of even the most "progressive" individuals when it comes to homosexuality.

    Even those who favor gay rights as a matter of principle often experience a fair amount of discomfort with homosexuality on a personal level, as they do with race.

    And that is where the "love"/"fear" point comes into play. We are not a beloved group of people, even among liberals....and we are not feared the way blacks or other racial minorities are (unlike them, gays are not going to riot in the streets if we don't get our way.)

    And that is why it is so hard to bring about change, made even harder when trans people are brought into the equation, who cause extreme discomfort for almost everybody, including most gays.

    At the end of the day, Obama is, at best, ambivalent in his feelings towards gay people, so, with the pressure off in the second term, I expect him to do even less than he did in his first term, which was not much.

    Regardless, as you know, I believe the real road to change lies in changing the male culture to bring about more emotional and sexual freedom for men (and independence from women, critically)....which entails eradicating the gay culture of effeminacy, which is a huge obstacle to bringing about such change. That matters far more in the long-term than partisan politics.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 12, 2012 11:38:44 AM

  14. Well put, DRG.

    Rick, it's not at all wishful thinking, it is my reality, the reality of lgbt people who live in equality states. We didn't mis-read how most people feel about gays. Just the opposite. We understood very well, and we brought the right legal cases and elected the right people, and got our laws changed. We successfully brought about change where we live, and we--along with many others--will do the same in the US, most likely through the Courts, because the constitution is on our side even if the Bible belt isn't.

    Your mis-reading of the changing political and cultural landscape may have to do with your personal circumstances. Closeted lives don't see change, open lives do. But that's not for me to figure out. And addressing your personal insecurities around masculinity is a perpetual losing cause, so I won't even try.

    You are correct that gay issues aren't a top priority for the President. To make them so would be crazy in these economic times. But we'll have to disagree about his 2nd term. The historical trajectory is clear. A Democratic President in the years 2012-2016 will want lgbt non-discrimination laws and marriage equality as part of his legacy. Not wishful thinking, rather educated thinking, as someone who's been involved in lgbt politics for a long time. The Democratic governors who got marriage equality passed in their states know very well they'll be on the right side of history, and being on the right side of history matters to politicians. A few Republicans are just waking up to the fact they'll be the George Wallaces of the future if they stay on their backwards homophobic course--most remain oblivious.

    What can I say, Rick? We're on different pages. But, hey, I support your vegetarianism, so there's common ground, just not on gay issues.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 12, 2012 12:23:40 PM

  15. Rick or Rick - yes, of course it was Kiwi. I should have known a trail that filthy. Even if it wasn't he should be credited for his past alone and just to help people watch where they're stepping.

    Posted by: uffda | Apr 12, 2012 12:34:20 PM

  16. If we keep settling for backstabbing candidates like Barack Obama, the Democrats will surely give us more of the same, each one worse than the last, until (maybe?) it finally becomes clear that there's a thimble's worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans on LGBT issues. Not to mention other important considerations like the economy, big Pharma and the military industrial complex.

    I have it on good authority that party affiliation is not a good predictor of support for Gay Rights. I'm told that some of the biggest hetero-bigots reside on the left side of the aisle, and I'm convinced Obama is one of them! LGBT Enabling third parties is the solution, folks . . . as long we volley back and forth between two parties like shuttlecocks, we're begging to be taken for granted.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Apr 12, 2012 12:57:31 PM

  17. Executive orders do get over turned, ENDA should not be an order it should come from congress. the republicans have not been worth shopping for and they have nothing to entice us with. But I agree getting them there is a great Plan, we just disagree on how to get there.

    Jack who do we vote for then? 3rd party? (lol)
    O and jack he never said it would be done in 4 yrs

    Rick the dems are not great but what has the republicans offered?

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Apr 12, 2012 1:30:09 PM

  18. GeorgeM:

    4 years is how long you are elected president for. You don't get to assume that you will have a second term; you EARN it by keeping your promises. It is SO arrogant to assume that a second set of 4 years is coming.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 12, 2012 1:31:47 PM

  19. Every president thinks another 4 is coming. Hell they prob want 12
    No president completes everything they want or say their going to do, that's life in politics. Let's face it heath care was his top.

    But really tho who should the community vote for?

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Apr 12, 2012 1:43:26 PM

  20. Personally, I'm keeping all options open. The fight over gay issues is dwindling as public opinion shifts fairly dramatically. I have concerns other than gay issues, and we will see who can address most of them.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 12, 2012 1:52:33 PM

  21. How many jack's post on here?

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Apr 12, 2012 1:53:03 PM

  22. Good answer

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Apr 12, 2012 1:56:50 PM

  23. This is simple to understand: Gays are ghettoiszed politically. Their [our] eggs are thrown pretty much all in one basket. The Dems and POTUS aren't dumb, they know gay advocates have nowhere else to turn and have to put up with anything. If the election gets really close and POTUS's team determines he could get a lift from endorsing he'll do it, if not, he won't.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 12, 2012 4:21:10 PM

  24. @Ratbastard:

    Which is exactly why I'll consider voting R in the election. They're no better. Popular opinion is such that a national attempt to strip rights is unlikely to succeed. Gay issues are really the only reason I even consider voting D to begin with. If they are just going to throw table scraps, I'll make em pay.

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 12, 2012 5:46:39 PM

  25. Your one vote won't make them pay but you could do something good like calling them out on things and holding their feet to the fire. If gay issues are the only reason you vote D then you should move on, go do something good with the R's someone should

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Apr 12, 2012 6:40:41 PM

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