Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wash. Post on "a stinging setback" for LGBT movement from Obama via David Fleck (GetEqual)


The reviews are in -- and they're not good. The White House really stepped in it yesterday with the decision to punt on the non-discrimination order. 
A surprising new rift opened between the White House and the gay rights movement after White House officials revealed Wednesday that President Obama would not sign an executive order sought by activists to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Community advocates learned of the news during a closed-door meeting with two top Obama aides, Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz, who told the group that the White House would instead lead a multi-pronged effort to urge companies, federal agencies and others to oppose discrimination.

It was a stinging setback for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement, a key piece of Obama’s political base that had scored major victories from this White House — namely the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and the administration’s reversal of its position on whether to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Those actions were widely viewed as having triggered an outpouring of financial support from gay donors for Obama’s reelection campaign.
The new talking point from the White House and its allies is that they want a legislative solution, meaning ENDA. Well, we all want that. But, that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future -- and it didn't happen during the 2009-2010 session when we had the votes to pass it. The White House didn't exactly make passing ENDA a priority back then. But, now they're going to. 

During the President's interview with Kerry Eleveld back in December of 2010, he made it clear that legislation wasn't his only option:
[Kerry] I know one of the things that people were interested [in] — especially gay and transgender Americans — was passing employment nondiscrimination protections. But looking forward, it looks like most legislation, pro-LGBT, will be stalled in Congress. So as you look to much of the action that’s going to be happening in the courts — do you think that gays and lesbians and transgender people should have a heightened scrutiny status?

[The President] Before I answer that question, let me just say there are still a lot of things we can do administratively even if we don’t pass things legislatively. So my ability to make sure that the federal government is an employer that treats gays and lesbians fairly, that’s something I can do, and sets a model for folks across the board. Our implementation ...
There are a lot of things they can do, like an executive order on non-discrimination for federal contractors. They just won't.