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04/19/2007


Activist Claims DNC Chair Discouraged Dems from Urging Obama to Issue 'ENDA' Executive Order

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.

Wasserman-schultzHouse 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?

SingerIn 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.


Anonymous Group Runs New 'Anti-Gay' Chuck Hagel Attack Ad: VIDEO

Newhagelad

Today's Sunday talk shows bring a mystery: who is behind a new ad attacking Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel?

The ad, a 30-second spot calling former Sen. Hagel anti-women, anti-gay, anti-Israel and pro-assault weapons, will run on NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation and ABC's This Week today*, and clearly hopes to churn up the many varied controversies that have swirled around Hagel - but no one is taking responsibility for it. Not directly, at least.

The Huffington Post reports that an anonymous group calling itself "Use Your Mandate" says they're behind it, but they refuse to reveal their actual identities because they claim they're Democrats and independents who work with the president and don't want to complicate that relationship.

The source close to the group said that for now, those involved are choosing to stay anonymous because they are allies with the Obama administration and hesitant to criticize the president publicly or fear retribution or pressure from the White House. The source characterized members as a "concerned group of people who ... have some questions about Chuck Hagel," including individuals who have "fought for LGBT rights for a long time."

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed asked the usual suspects — HRC and GetEqual, for example — but found no leads, but Paul Yandura, a former Democratic staffer who helped get GetEqual off the ground, said whoever is behind it is simply "chicken" and totally eroding the power of their message.

"It's laughable that they want to stay anonymous because they are too chicken to criticize the president since they are his supporters. Either this is a serious enough issue to call out the president or not," he said.

Watch the ad, AFTER THE JUMP.

(*Apparently they're running online ads, too; some are popping up on this very site.)

Continue reading "Anonymous Group Runs New 'Anti-Gay' Chuck Hagel Attack Ad: VIDEO" »


Add To The List Of LGBT Goals For President Obama

ObamapinWhile appointing an LGBT person to the Cabinet or as an ambassador to a G-20 nation would be nice, Joe Sudbay and Paul Yandura have laid out a few other, more pressing goals for President Obama's second term, including an executive decision on workplace discrimination.

Via their piece at Huffington Post:

1. By the end of this year, President Obama needs to sign the executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This executive order has been awaiting his signature for over two years now. He could do it this week, and it would be a historic first step toward federal employment protections. We can no longer wait for employment protections that the president promised us and should have put into place on his first day on the job four years ago.

2. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needs to make good on his promise to bring up an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for a vote early in 2013. We deserve a Senate vote on ENDA, having not seen concrete progress since Democrats took control over six years ago. We want a floor vote. If Republicans want to filibuster it, let them. We want them on record. The American people are with us. When we push the GOP to show their bigotry, they lose.

3. Same-sex couples should not be forgotten or excluded when immigration reform finally gets debated and passed. And don't tell us that you will come back later for us, or that we need to be in a separate bill that can be appended later. We have been there and done that.

Sudbay and Yandura are also asking readers for suggestions on how President Obama can address persistent LGBT discrimination during his second term, so offer yours in the comments section.


LGBT Activists Blast 'Shallow, Unpersuasive' White House Punt on Non-Discrimination Order

SiriusXM Out Q radio host Michelangelo Signorile reports in the HuffPost on two interviews he did last week regarding the White House's odd announcement that Obama wouldn't be signing an executive order barring LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

AlmeidaThe first was with Freedom to Work's Tico Almeida, who was in the meeting at the White House:

“It was weak, it was shallow, it was unpersuasive,” said Almeida of White House arguments made against signing the order, appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ. “It floated back and forth between different reasons. It wasn’t even consistent. There were a few younger, junior staffers who made some arguments that were just laughable. Really embarrassing.”

Almeida believes the rejection of the order is political. He theorized it was caused by “panic” at the White House in an election year, as the issue had suddenly risen above the radar in the media, after two gay men, members of the direct action group Get Equal, planned to confront Obama about it at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Our legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman spoke with Almeida twice over the past year about the need for such an order, and about the likelihood that it was going to happen. Read their first interview here, the second here.

YanduraSignorile then spoke to Democratic strategist and gay former Clinton aide Paul Yandura:

In a separate radio interview, Yandura, who helped create Get Equal and has been critical of the White House for what he sees as foot-dragging, agreed: “The [activists at the] Easter Egg Roll was [a] brilliant move. That got the issue into the mainstream press. It got the White House smoked out on this.”

He criticized some gay groups for giving the president a pass on the issue, in the past and now.

“HRC sat on the polling they did [on this issue] from six months ago,” Yandura charged. “It was clear that the groups -- and if you want to say it in positive way -- the groups were trying to give the White House space to do the right thing. I would say they weren’t advocating on our behalf. I was told that everyone had agreed they were going to play an insider game. Well, I think we now as a community can see when you play an insider game, this is what you get.”

Yandura was especially critical of the LGBT advocacy group leaders and their unwillingness to push the President:

“The first email I see come out of NGLTF, after this big meeting that Rea Carey’s in, is a fundraising email,” Yandura continued. “They’ve sent nothing out to their list on this. So, if they’re supposed to be leading on ENDA -- they’re failing. I think we can watch by, 'What are our groups doing now?' Why wouldn’t Rea Carey and Joe Solmonese grow a pair and come out and say ‘I’m not going to stop until you sign this?’”


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