White House Press Secretary Argues Against ‘ENDA’ Executive Order, Says It Would Be ‘Redundant’

LGBT advocates have been pressing for President Obama to issue an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT workers as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act languishes in Congress, faced by a House Speaker who says there is no chance he'll bring it to a vote.

CarneyThus far, the Press Secretary Jay Carney has insisted Obama supports such workplace protections but has directed questions from reporters asking if Obama will issue such an order to what it has said in the past, that the President would like to see the law passed by Congress.

Yesterday, Carney took the explaining a bit further, the Washington Blade reports:

“I think if the law passed — and I’m not a lawyer — and I haven’t read every sentence of the law, but I think if a law passed that broadly banned this kind of employment discrimination, it would make redundant an executive order,” Carney said.

Carney articulated his belief that an executive order would be “redundant” in the event ENDA became law after emphasizing the broad-based protections under the bill, which applies not just to federal contractors, but to many public and private employers.

“I think the employment non-discrimination legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would broadly apply, and that’s one of the reasons why we support it,” Carney said. “Because it’s a broad solution to the problem, and it ought to be passed by Congress.”

HRC lashed out at Carney:

“We couldn’t disagree more,” Sainz said. “Even if ENDA passed tomorrow, we’d still want the EO. His assertion is completely out of step with over 60 years of social change strategy related to enduring legal protections for race and gender and more recently for hate crimes and non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. What he’s asserting is the equivalent of saying that if ENDA passed tomorrow, we wouldn’t need non-discrimination laws in the majority of states that still don’t have them. That’s absolutely not the case.”

195 lawmakers recently sent a letter to Obama urging him to issue the executive order. Vice President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass the bill in a recent speech to HRC in L.A. And DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias expressed frustration on a listserv about the President's unwillingness to issue it, calling it "frustrating and perplexing."

On a related note, the Blade, in a separate article wants to introduce you to the 8 House Dems who don't co-sponsor ENDA. They are Reps. Dan Lipinksi (Ill.), Jim Costa (Calif.), John Barrow (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Pete Gallego (Texas), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gene Green (Texas) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).




  1. graphicjack says

    Unreal… this is way more important than equal marriage, yet, this gets stalemated every time. With Mississippi passing their BS “Religious Freedom” bill, it’s pretty f’in clear an EO would NOT be redundant, especially since it will never even hit the floor of the House with that a*hole Boehner as the Speaker. Umerica, where all men are created equal, unless they are women, minorities, or queer.

  2. Ryan says

    This is some real, stinking BS. Does he think we’re dumb?

    It would only be close to redundant if ENDA was passed (and even then it wouldn’t be redundant because a President would have more power to enforce an executive order than he — ENDA’s enforcement mechanisms aren’t that tough).

    Why to hell isn’t the President on this? The Right hates him already, the Christian Right probably thinks he’s trying to bring down the pillars of society and won’t even acknowledge the fact that he’s an American citizen….

    Why not at least enjoy the support of some of your biggest allies by doing something really easy that will make them really happy?

    The President sure loves to be dragged along kicking and screaming. Frustrating.

  3. Leo says

    Really great article.

    Concisely clarifies why BOTH the Exec. Order AND ENDA are needed:

    “One difference between the executive order and ENDA would be the enforcement mechanism. If ENDA were law, anti-LGBT discrimination would be still be allowed by small businesses, or companies with fewer than 15 employees, as well as by religious organizations in a broader way than other groups because of ENDA’s religious exemption. But if an executive order were in place — and modeled after the existing executive order barring discrimination among other groups — companies exempt under ENDA could face penalties as long as they do $10,000 a year in business with the U.S. government.

    According to Freedom to Work, under ENDA, a victim must first file a complaint with the EEOC before an investigation into anti-LGBT workplace discrimination can take place. But under the executive order, the Labor Department could proactively investigate a company for such discrimination — even if no complaint were filed. In fact, the Labor Department regularly conducts audits of federal contractors to determine if they’ve engaged in discrimination under the current directive.”

  4. phluidik says

    “This EO would perhaps maybe be made redundant IF enda passes at some future, undetermined point.”

    This is, stupid incarnate.

    So what if it might someday be redundant. It is not redundant now. So sign the damned thing.

  5. Leo says

    @ Ryan

    Adding to your argument…

    If he’s avoiding this to try and bring people out to the polls in November against the Republicans it won’t make a difference because the Democrat’s base doesn’t turn up for midterms.

    If he’s trying to avoid accusations of “overreach” all of the Right still attacks him for that everyday.

    That Debbie Wasserman Schultz accusation from a few weeks ago is looking more and more plausible everyday.

  6. Homo Genius says

    ok.. y’all do realize that its nearly impossible to prove “discrimination” – ask women and blacks. This is more of a feel good issue that would have little actual practical effect. The only people I see benefiting are trans who going thru their so called transitions

  7. Rick says

    As always with Obama, he only takes action on gay rights when he sees a direct political benefit to himself in doing so. Since he cannot run for re-election and is effectively a lame duck, he has nothing to lose by shafting gay people…..and so that is exactly what he is dcing.

    The Executive Order that LBJ issued prohibiting companies contracting with the Federal government from discrimination based on race or gender stands today, even after other anti-discrimination laws were passed by Congress, so there is no “redundancy” here–an EO and a Congressional bill have different applications.

    No, I am afraid that all we have here is another case of Obama being Obama and not giving a damn about gay people when he has nothing personally to gain from doing so.

  8. Richard Harney says

    A Dem doesn’t have to co-sponsor a bill to be in favor of it. It is very common for a bill to only have one or two co-sponsors. The question is, do these dems support or oppose the bill.

  9. Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance says

    Could there be any clearer example of the sheer ineffectiveness of HRC than the failure to get achieve any progress on this front? Meanwhile, Lambda Legal is racking up victory after victory on the marriage equality front. I know where my money is going . . .

  10. Randy says

    The foot-dragging is annoying enough, but to be lied to is even more annoying.

    What is this “if” anyway? ENDA isn’t passed, and it isn’t going to pass any time during the remainder of Obama’s term. That much is clear.

    (By the way, thank Obama and the Democrats for dropping the ball on this when they could have done it easily in 2009-10, perhaps even drawing fire away from their botched public-option-less Obamacare)

  11. SpaceCadet says

    Haven’t we been talking about ENDA since the 90’s? Pass the damn bill and if not issue an executive order already. If not, Hillary Clinton, our future president better make it so!

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