A prominent activist is accusing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, pictured) of discouraging Democratic lawmakers from signing a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people, the Washington Blade reports.
House Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he will not allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which passed the Senate for the first time this year, and activists are growing impatient.
Said Paul Yandura, political director for gay philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, to the Blade:
"I was told personally by two members that she was tamping down on public calls for the president to make good on his promise — this was last year when the issue was really getting hot. She is most likely doing the same still," adding, "I think she doesn’t want to embarrass the president, and still doesn’t want to embarrass the president, because it is an embarrassment that he still hasn’t done it. We’re now coming down to the end of the second term, and if they don’t get moving on it, it’ll never even get implemented."
Wasserman Schultz's spokesperwon Mara Sloan called Yandura's assertions a "bald-faced lie," adding:
"The congresswoman believes the most effective way to ensure equal rights for LGBT Americans in the workplace is through passing comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. The congresswoman regularly speaks to the administration about issues important to the LGBT community, and will continue to be a fierce advocate for full equality."
Yandura said his claims are based on things he heard while collecting signatures for a 2013 letter urging Obama to issue the order.
More at the Blade....
WILL REPUBLICANS BE THE KEY TO ENDA?
In related news, a group of wealthy Republicans and former GOP lawmakers are joining an HRC-led campaign to push the House to take a vote on ENDA, USA Today reports:
"America is a place where the freedom to be who you are shouldn't be a barrier to your ability to get a job and provide for your family," said Paul Singer (pictured), a billionaire hedge fund founder and big Republican donor. Singer is putting $375,000 toward the push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. "In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance."
Fellow billionaire and GOP donor Seth Klarman also donated $375,000 to the campaign spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobby. HRC is putting up an additional $1.3 million in the effort to get 218 House lawmakers — a majority of the chamber — on record in support of ENDA.
The campaign plans to go after 48 persuadable House Republicans and gain their support for the bill:
If the group can get 218 lawmakers on public record in support of the legislation, they say House GOP leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may have to rethink their decision not to vote this year.
Boehner told members of the LGBT caucus at an historic first meeting earlier this year that ENDA had no chances of seeing a vote in 2014.