White House Prefers Legislative Route For All-Inclusive ENDA

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Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney yesterday whether President Obama planned to revive a shelved executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination among government contractors.

The short answer is no. The longer answer is that the White House wants to model an ENDA-type law's progress on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell model: that is, fight for it in Congress.

"Our position on that hasn’t changed,” Carney told Johnson during a press briefing. “We point to, as you and I have discussed, the process that led to the effective repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a model for the way to approach these issues. I don’t have any updates for you on our approach."

He went on, "The president supports an inclusive ENDA that would provide lasting and comprehensive protections for LGBT people across the country regardless of whether they happen to work for a government contractor, and we look forward to continuing to support that process and that legislation."

Johnson asked Carney about the ability to pass such a controversial piece of legislation — addressing transgender discrimination is far more difficult than addressing anti-gay discrimination — in a GOP led House, to which Carney replied, “Many people said just that, even though it was in the prior Congress, about repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We believe that the country has moved dramatically on issues like this, and that this president is committed to civil rights and to building on protections that are necessary for LGBT people as he is for all Americans.”

You can read a transcript of Johnson and Carney's exchange AFTER THE JUMP.

 

Washington Blade: Jay, I want to go back to something we haven’t talked about for a while. There’s been a renewed call for President Obama to issue that executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Over the weekend, Steve Elemendorf, one of the president’s supporters during the election, said it needs to happen within the first six months of next year. Will President Obama revisit this idea as he begins his second term?

Jay Carney: Our position on that hasn’t changed. We point to, as you and I have discussed, the process that led to the effective repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a model for the way to approach these issues. I don’t have any updates for you on our approach. The president supports an inclusive-ENDA that would provide lasting and comprehensive protections for LGBT people across the country regardless of whether they happen to work for a government contractor, and we look forward to continuing to support that process and that legislation.

Blade: So that rules out the possibility of the order within the first six months of next year?

Carney: Again, I’m not speculating on a hypothetical situation. I would simply point to what our position has been and the avenue that we believe is the best to pursue broad-based protections for LGBT people.

Blade: Given that Republicans still control Congress after Election Day, isn’t leaving this up to the legislative process condemn LGBT people to lack of workplace non-discrimination protections for at least two years?

Carney: Many people said just that, even though it was in the prior Congress, about repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We believe that the country has moved dramatically on issues like this, and that this president is committed to civil rights and to building on protections that are necessary for LGBT people as he is for all Americans.

Blade: One last question.

Carney: I’ve given about all I can give.

Blade: President Obama said in May when he endorsed marriage equality that he spoken with service members who were discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and with same-sex couples looking to be married. Has he ever spoken to a victim of LGBT workplace discrimination?

Carney: I don’t know that he has or hasn’t. I just don’t have a conversation to read out to you.

Blade: Can you get back to me on that?

Carney: I’m not going to ask him about every conversation he’s had.