Earlier this week in an interview on Huffington Post Vice President Joe Biden said he didn’t see any downside in the President issuing an executive order on LGBT workplace discrimination for federal contractors but said that the White House still prefers the matter be handled legislatively, by passing ENDA.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about that statement yesterday.
Here is the transcript, via the White House:
Q The Vice President said yesterday that he doesn’t see any downside to the President taking executive action on LGBT workplace discrimination. Does the President agree?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the complete statement was that what we’re focused on — the big accomplishment, which would be passage by both houses of Congress and the signing into law by the President of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
I think it’s — points have been made, and I think in response to something I said earlier, that it’s clear that executive orders aren’t necessarily completely overlapping with what would be achieved by legislation. I think there’s no doubt that the legislation would be a far greater accomplishment and more broadly applied. And that is why we continue to push the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass that, because those who oppose it, I hope — at least their children — will regret the reasons they put forward for opposing it, because they sound a lot like the reasons opponents argued against civil rights legislation in the past. And they were wrong there. They’re wrong now.
So I don’t have any updates on suggested or proposed executive orders. What I can tell you is that we still call on Congress, the House, to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Q What is there a reluctance to do something on the executive order when it could complement this broader push that you guys really want?
MR. CARNEY: Again, I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders. When the President decides to take action using his administrative authority, some —
Q But the Vice President speculated. He said that he didn’t see any downside.
MR. CARNEY: No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly. And I’m happy to. I think this is an incredibly important issue, and I think it is remarkable how much progress has been made and remarkable that there is still resistance to the progress that remains to be made. That’s certainly the President’s view.
I just don’t — I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the President may or may not take. What I can tell you is that there is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and would like to see passed by the House. Thank you all very much.
At this point and time in history there is absolutely no reason for President Obama NOT to sign such an Executive Order protecting the federal contractor LGBT workforce from being discriminated against by their respective contractors until the day a fully inclusive and non-religious exempted ENDA is passed by the legislature.
And indeed there is Presidential precedent for such an executive order:
*President Roosevelt had responded to complaints about discrimination at home against African Americans by issuing Executive Order 8802 in June 1941, directing that blacks be accepted into job-training programs in defense plants, forbidding discrimination by defense contractors, and establishing a Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC)
*Executive Order 10925, signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, required government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.
*Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1965, established requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment on the part of U.S. government contractors. It “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Here we have our first black President refusing to sign an Executive Order to protect the civil right and employment rights of LGBT Americans. This is not only is it a slap to the LGBT community it flies in the face of great late Presidents who actually fought for the civil rights of the american people.
While the current version of ENDA sitting in the House of Representatives is dangerous and contains so many religious exemptions that will harm us. (Thanks to Tico Almedia and Freedom to Work ) an EO protecting LGBT federal contractor employees is the right first step until a better and stronger version of ENDA can be written.
President Obama should be ashamed of himself.