And while myself and millions of others applaud the President's decision, Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) is giving him the loudest applause:President Barack Obama has directed his staff to draft an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors, a White House official told The Huffington Post.
The move is the clearest indication to date that the administration is prepared to take action on LGBT rights where Congress has fallen short. Notably, the official would not say whether the president will sign the order into law on Monday -- suggesting the White House is leaking the news to warn lawmakers that they have a limited window to pass more sweeping workplace discrimination legislation before he acts without them.
"The president’s intentions are clear," the official said, when asked whether Obama would sign the order. "We will keep you posted."
Obama’s plan to draft an executive order comes after years of inaction on this front. The administration has been calling on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers nationwide to fire or harass someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill passed the Senate, but as it stalled in the House, pressure mounted on the president to act in ways that don't require legislative approval.
To the dismay of LGBT rights groups, Obama has resisted taking matters into his own hands. An executive order banning workplace discrimination against employees of federal contractors could affect as many as 16 million workers, but Obama has not issued one, despite pledges to do so during the 2008 campaign. Vice President Joe Biden appeared to get out in front of the president last month when he told The Huffington Post he didn't see a downside to such an order, but that statement did not lead to any action until Monday. - Huffington Post, 6/16/14
Merkley has long been a staunch fighter for getting ENDA passed through the Senate and has called for executive action from Obama. It's one of several reasons we need to keep him in the Senate because he's a fighter who never gives up. Merkley is lloking safe for re-election, despite what phony polls may say:Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the upper chamber, praised the White House decision and urged GOP lawmakers to act.
“With this announcement, the arc of history bends a little farther toward justice. Discrimination simply has no place in American workplaces. This executive order will allow millions more Americans to go to work empowered with the right to do their jobs free of harassment or discrimination,” he said in a statement.
“Most Americans don’t know that it’s still legal in many states to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s because it not only defies common sense, it goes wholly against who we are as a nation,” Merkley added. “No more excuses. It’s way past time for Speaker Boehner to allow ENDA to have a vote in the House.”
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called the move a “significant step in our nation’s progress on civil rights” and noted that it came almost one year after the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Democrats in Congress remain steadfast in our commitment to passing the Employee Non-Discrimination Act into law that will permanently extend these protections to all Americans,” she added. “It’s time for Republicans to join us.”
Obama is slated to headline a Democratic National Committee LGBT event on Tuesday in New York. - The Hill, 6/16/14
But with less than five months away, we can't take anything for granted. Click here to donate and get involved with Merkley's campaign so he can continue to fight for LGBT and workers rights:Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby, seeking to discount polls showing her well behind Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, on Wednesday said her own pollster shows her virtually neck-and-neck with the Democratic incumbent.
Wehby's firm, The Alexandria, Va.-based Tarrance Group, said its June 1-3 survey of 650 likely voters showed that Merkley is at 41 percent and Wehby is at 39 percent.
That is strongly at odds with two surveys conducted independently of the two campaigns shortly after the May 20 primary that showed Merkley ahead of Wehby by between 10 and 13 percentage points.
Andrew Zucker, Merkley's deputy campaign manager, in a statement called the survey conducted for Wehby a "sham poll [that] is a clear sign of desperation."
Candidate-sponsored surveys that are released publicly typically show a rosier scenario than does other polling -- and they're usually released for a particular strategic reason.
Wehby has been seeking to rebuild her campaign treasury after it was drained during the primary and after she ran into controversy following the release of reports showing that an ex-husband and ex-boyfriend had separately called the police to complain about her behavior. Polling showing that she is close could reassure donors that these incidents caused only a temporary drop in her standing. - The Oregonian, 6/13/14