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From left: Brian Moulton, Jeff Krehely, Tico Almeida, Stacey Long, Harper Jean Tobin discussed a non-discrimination executive order for federal contractors. (Not pictured, Brad Sears of Williams Institute.)
The LGBT constituency, like any, has been conducting a post-election debrief on the ramifications for the 2012 election, in D.C. and across the nation.

There seems to be very little reality-based objections that 2012 will be logged in history as a very decisive year for LGBT rights. Pick your cliche—watershed, milestone—but by any metric, the LGBT community won. They historically won ballot measures, not once but four times. They've claimed more seats at the state and federal legislative tables than ever before and elected the first out senator. They demonstrated they could very effectively insulate key allies from electoral backlash, from Supreme Court Justice Wiggins and Senate Leader Mike Gronstal in Iowa, to helping deliver a massive 72 percent win for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as helping reelect the gay-friendliest president ever.  

At the top of ticket the LGBT vote can be shown to be decisive in delivering the popular vote to President Obama. And now, The New York Times says even decisive margins in swing states like Florida and Ohio.

What's also notable is the president's support for the LGBT community drew very little mainstream conservative criticism. Despite countless opportunities, the Romney campaign made no overt attacks on Obama's support for marriage equality, his repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," use of Medicare to enforce hospital visitation rights, the Housing and Urban Development's adoption of non-discrimination policies, and many others. It was "the dog that didn't bark," says Tico Almeida, executive director of Freedom to Work, a group working for LGBT non-discrimination protection in the work place. "We can push forward strongly on the freedom to marry and freedom to work, and with the exception of the professional anti-equality types, the mainline conservatives will mostly remain quiet.”    

So. How to move forward?

Aside from the Supreme Court cases, marriage equality is an issue that is most likely to move forward primarily at the state level. And the ballot wins are sure to deliver some courage to political leaders in cusp states like Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois and others.

Many eyes are turning to how the federal government can address the issue of LGBT employment discrimination.

Seen as a key component is reigniting the call for Obama to issue an executive order requiring companies to have LGBT inclusive non-discrimination policies to qualify for consideration for a federal contractor. (There has long been such a requirement covering race, gender and religion dating since first initiated by the Truman administration.)

“First and foremost,” says Fred Sainz, Human Rights Campaign's vice president for communications and marketing, Obama must sign “an executive order on nondiscrimination with respect to federal contractors. That’s the most high-profile of the issues.”

The movement calling for the order was reaching a particular fever pitch in the spring of 2012. In April, 72 members of Congress called on the president to sign it, as well as a handful of allied groups, like the Council of La Raza and a big handful of labor unions.

Then two funny things happened. The administration called advocates in to the White House to explain that it wasn't happening before the election.

Usually sympathetic outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post and even Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show were framing the president's inaction in a decidedly unflattering light.

And then the president announced support for marriage equality, essentially draining any grassroots momentum that had been built up to pressure the president further on LGBT rights, perhaps appropriately.

Now, the election is over and the issue is back.

(Continues after the fold ...)

Fear of political backlash was never based in reality, and the election demonstrated that very well. Polling shows Americans support non-discrimination protection for LGBT community by unprecedentedly high majorities, 73 percent in 2012, including 66 percent of respondents who identify as Republican.

Wednesday afternoon advocates from LGBT advocacy groups gathered with press in the Congressional Rayburn office, in conjunction with staffers from Reps. Barney Frank, Jared Polis, David Cicilline and (Senator-elect) Tammy Baldwin's offices. The future of the executive order and prospects for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress was the topic.

The panel was organized in conjunction with Tico Almeida, founder and president of the Freedom to Work Advocacy Fund, and included: Jeff Krehely, vice president for LGBT Progress, Center for American Progress; Stacey Long, director of public policy and government affairs, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Brian Moulton, legal director, Human Rights Campaign; Brad Sears, executive director, Williams Institute; Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy, National Center for Transgender Equality.

Advocates were united that delivery of the order was not only necessary but inevitable. No one seems to doubt it's coming.

With a second Obama term assured, opinions differ somewhat on ideal timing. There's a school of thought that it would be a symbolic delivery of a promise and should come by the end of the first term, making Jan. 20 an important deadline. Says Heather Cronk, managing director at GetEQUAL:

"The president made a promise to the LGBT community as a candidate in 2008 that, if he was elected, he would sign this federal contractor Executive Order in his first term. After a landslide election that could arguably be attributed to many core constituency groups -- including LGBT Americans -- we're now looking at about two months in which the president can make good on this promise. We hope that he'll do that because it's the right thing to do -- but we're more than willing to help make the case in the public square if he's not willing to move on this now."
Not unreasonable for a generation of activists who have watched non-discrimination protection languish in Congress since 1973 and for who the promise of "later" has long been synonymous with "never." Cronk is referencing a candidate survey wherein Sen. Obama wooed the support of an LGBT rights group in 2008 with an unqualified promise to deliver such an executive order.

But many advocates are certainly not ignorant that for the foreseeable future all eyes are on the "fiscal cliff," an issue Human Rights Campaign is currently messaging to their own base. And a midnight Friday lame duck press release—while a terrific pragmatic win for millions—may rob the movement of an important teaching moment.

Recent polls also showed that 90 percent of Americans believe erroneously that LGBT employment discrimination is already illegal. (Feel free to facepalm, there.) This points to a massive public education effort that needs to be continued; LGBT employment discrimination exists, is prevalent and its unemployed and/or harassed LGBT victims are more often that not left no legal recourse. 

There are rumors that a spring announcement will be made with a press conference, a presidential signing ceremony and some pomp and circumstance and this does indeed offer an attractive side-benefit to the cause.

Almeida sees value in such an event that would include prominent CEOs and employees of contractors, many of whom already have such employment policies.

"A high-profile event like that would make a strong national security argument in favor of this executive order, as well as the business case.  I think it would make it very difficult for everyone but the most ultra-conservative anti-equality activists to complain about the new policy.”
At the House briefing, Almeida outlined a two-step plan for moving the issue forward in the national agenda of LGBT employment equality.

Secure the executive order
Though not as expansive as legislative remedy, it will provide protection to as much as 22 percent of the American work force, including millions of Americans who currently do not have it, particularly in high-population states that receive many federal contractor dollars but offer no state-level discrimination protection like Texas, Florida and Ohio.

Historically such orders have always lead to legislation and there's no reason to believe this case would be any different.

Press Harry Reid to finally deliver the Senate vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Not all legislative votes require arrival at the Oval Office to be considered a political win. Certainly no one labored under the illusion that the Paycheck Fairness Act would find a presidential signature in 2012, did they?

Speaking at a Williams Institute post-election debrief Thursday night, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin remained noncommittal on whether his organization would advocate for a Senate vote. Almeida sees a Senate vote as obtainable in 2013, and very helpful to the overall movement:

“Unfortunately, Senate leadership has not brought ENDA to the floor for a full vote since the fall of 1996.  In those 16 years of inaction, there’s been too much atrophy of the legislative muscles behind the bill. When any issue is not raised for debate on at least a semi-regular basis, people forget about it.  This reminds me of my least favorite ENDA advocacy story involving an LGBT advocate who was walking the halls of Congress last year between ENDA meetings, and one Senator who knew the advocate stopped him to chat and ask him what he was working on.  When the advocate responded with ‘ENDA,’ the Senator looked puzzled and said, ‘Oh, I thought we passed that years ago.’”
Some votes are merely helpful to create a spotlight on the politics of contrast. It will also offer Democrats another moment to demonstrate the depth and breadth of Republican obstructionism in Washington, D.C., when even the august and slothful body of the (Democratically dominated) Senate can move forward on issues with which Republicans remain determined to stay planted in '50s.

And that brings us to the House ...
This of course would be where the plan gets a little sketchy. Speaker Boehner is a significant hurdle, to say the least. Spending bill attachments are a possibility if an opportunity can be identified and a sympathetic committee is found.

Chris Johnson reports in the Washington Blade that Jared Polis of Colorado will be assuming outgoing Rep. Barney Frank's place as the lead sponsor for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the next session. The article also raises the prospect of a little-used tool called a discharge petition, where leadership can be circumnavigated by obtaining 218 signatures for a floor vote. It was last used successfully in 2000 to pass what was known as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill (RIP).

Almeida sees the House as a bridge to cross when the movement comes to it. In the long game view, midterms are not so very far away and there are worse things than arriving in 2014 with a half-fulfilled mandate for LGBT non-discrimination protection thwarted only by yet another example Republican obstructionism.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Can't wait for them to tackle age discrimination (14+ / 0-)

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 01:35:46 PM PST

    •  So That NBC's Expert Journalist Luke Russert, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, stevenaxelrod, sfbob

      golden boy and nepotistee, knows the ADEA exists.

      “Some of your colleagues privately say that your decision to stay on prohibits the party from having a younger leadership and hurts the party in the long term,” Russert had asked after Pelosi’s announcement that she’d like to stay on the the House Democratic leader. “What’s your response?”

      The Republican Party is Simply a Coalition of Greed and Hate

      by kerplunk on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:32:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pelosi did a nice job the other day. (5+ / 0-)

      Supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Adlai Stevenson: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

      by Scott Wooledge on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:40:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  age discrimination (0+ / 0-)

      In almost every culture since the dawn of humanity, age was respected, even revered.  I had the unusual pleasure of knowing a great-grandparent, but these days with increased longevity, that's probably getting routine.  Within 30 years we will have immortality...let's hope they won't discriminate against the 900-year-olds in centuries to come.  I really want to be there - in spite of current unpleasantness, the world will get get better (unless Mr. Netanyahu blows us all to Kingdom Come)

  •  Baron von Steuben (17+ / 0-)

    was the first known gay "Federal employee" ( by Washington)  and is credited with one of the reasons the American Revoution was won.
    Call whatever he does the " vonSteuben Doctrine, Decree, Executive Order, whatever, and let reporters talk about up his contribution to the fledgling Republic.  What can the Republlicans say?....his contributions are well documented, as well as his affection for men......and he was a major player in America's founding.

  •  Should I just lay under the bus now? (5+ / 0-)

    Or do you want me to yet again futilely advocate for rights before telling me it isn't time for me to have the right to exist in this capitalist society. That society is not ready for any gender variation whatsoever.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 01:49:05 PM PST

  •  I want the Republicans to continue to (4+ / 0-)

    lose their footing on the cultural wedge issues generally and on LGBTQ rights particularly.

    The red team just got whomped in a national election.  A good handful of their far-Right nutbags lost seats.  And in most cases will be replaced by blue votes for meaningful reform in the next Congress.  

    A long time ago would have been the best time.  Next best time is right now.  Fair's fair, this is a good idea, it's long over-due, and it's high time to get it done.

    After the Republicans lost this election, it's now more strategically expensive for them to howl like wounded animals about how sinful and God-tempting LGBTQ people are.  

    An index should be created to measure far-Right fundie and Bagger objections to LGBTQ equality issues correspondent to how many more young people leave their church in Dallas or Macon or Nashville.  And how much more difficult national elections will become if they keep trying to cast LGBTQ people into the eternal flames.

    Best chance in a long time.  Full steam ahead.

    •  So do we prefer for the GOP to reaffirm (5+ / 0-)

      their homophobic stances, or for them to drop all this anti-gay stuff? For gay people, it may be better if there were no major Party who was always trying to hurt them. On the other hand, if the GOP stood down on its anti gay crusade they'd win more elections, and on many issues the liberal gay community would be worse off.

      •  Either answer is a winner (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        craigkg, gizmo59

        It's just a matter of short term or long term benefit.

        Supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Adlai Stevenson: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

        by Scott Wooledge on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 03:22:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  An awful lot of LGBTQ folks vote. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Reel Woman, sfbob, Mokurai

        They show up, they vote, they vote blue.

        In overwhelming numbers.

        Those are hundreds of thousand of votes the GOP does not have.  Whether they want to transform their platform into something worth our vote is their call.  

        Til then, though, I'm voting as blue as it gets.

        When the President of the United States says, out loud, on tv, that he and the First Lady have no problem at all with same-sex marriage, for instance, it changes the landscape inside and outside the head of a 15-year old in Topeke, a 17-year old in Hartford, and a 12-year old in Nashville.  

        That's a new landscape.  The inside-the-head dialogue will reject the GOP's homophobia.  And if that young man or woman registers to vote, the GOP will continue to lose support.

        And IMO they deserve to.

      •  We want the public to know the truth (0+ / 0-)

        There are two ways to "drop all this anti-gay stuff".

        One is to pretend it isn't so, while keeping up the Dog Whistles, which is the stock Republican thought on all of the issues that they are losing on. This is a losing strategy, because they always get outed. [sic] As is continuing to admit, even flaunt [sic] their bigotry.

        The other is to stop being, or pretending to be, homophobic, and come out [sic] for LGBT rights. I'm all for that. We are seeing more and more of it.

        The public tipped on LGBT rights a few years ago. Politics is designed not to respond to shifts in public opinion immediately, but elections have consequences, some sooner and some later.

        The war is lost, but not conceded. Most will surrender at some point. Some will fight to the bitter end, and then claim (as in Germany after WW I) that they were sold out and stabbed in the back, and start looking for scapegoats and planning their next putsch. Let a hundred conspiracy theories bloom.

        America—We built that!

        by Mokurai on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:00:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Instead of just an executive order (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, wasatch, craigkg

    I would like to see a push in Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I feel like we have come far enough in this country that most people probably support equal employment opportunities even if they don't support gay marriage. Getting it through the House would be a tough sell but maybe not impossible.

    I would also like to see DOMA repealed, but that might be tougher unless we manage to take back the House in 2014.

    •  We shouldn't stop at ENDA (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SueDe, democrattotheend, sfbob, cooper888

      How about a Civil Rights Act of 2013 or 2014 banning employment discrimination, discrimination in housing and credit, discrimination by places of public accommodation, discrimination against students by educational institutions receiving federal money and discrimination by the Federal government against married same sex couples (regardless of whether SCOTUS takes the case(s) and strikes DOMA down, the language in U.S. Code ought be removed). None of those ideas are controversial anymore. The only reason to chop up LGBT equality bills into tiny pieces any more and address them one by excruciatingly long pauses between by one is to serve the financial interests of the Democratic wing of this nation's cancerous money-sucking Political Industrial Complex that has the alchemist's formula for turning the blood of LGBT teens into gold.

      "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

      by craigkg on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:36:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is no excuse for refusing to sign the (0+ / 0-)

      executive order, both for government contractors and government agencies. It would give ENDA a huge boost in Congress, in part because of the public posturing that would ensue, and reveal itself to be arrant nonsense. It would be in part like the so-called expert testimony in the California Prop. 8 case, where David Blankenhorn, one of the expert witnesses, was so thoroughly refuted in court that he has come over to our side. But mainly it would get the attention of more low-information pundits.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:07:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Executive order, THEN get it passed (8+ / 0-)

    Why.  First, he promised.  Since this has nothing to do with the fiscal cliff, he has two months.  I'm glad someone is holding Obama's feet to the fire on this.

    Second, the push to pass ENDA (you'll remember when I reviewed the administration's LGBT fact sheet in February I said I was surprisingly happy except for ENDA) should be at the end of the year to make sure EVERYONE in Congress has his or her vote on it on the record for the 2014 elections. It might make a difference.

    DOMA? Only after we see what the courts are going to do and that probably won't be until the end of June.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:05:46 PM PST

  •  I believe you meant to say that 90% of Americans (9+ / 0-)

    believe that LGBT employment discrimination is illegal, not that LGBT employment is illegal.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:06:46 PM PST

  •  Non-discrimination order predates Truman (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rikon Snow, SueDe, sfbob, Mokurai

    Roosevelt issued the first executive order barring racial discrimination by federal contractors in any contract related to defense. Executive Order 8802 was issued 25 June 1941. Just under two years later, FDR issued EO 9346, which expanded 8802 to require non-discrimination by all government contractors. EO 8802, 936 and at least two other FDR executive orders also established and strengthened a Fair Employment Practices Commission, the forerunner the modern Office of Federal Contract Compliance, to enforce the orders. Truman extended the authority of Roosevelt's EOs with EO 9664 in December 1945. Truman issued another 6 yeasr later to further refine protections (EO 10308).

    All subsequent Presidents further enforced EOs to ban racial discrimination by federal contractors (Eisenhower EO 10479 & Kennedy EO 10925). Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 effectively banned discrimination on the basis of race irrespective of federal contractor status, LBJ's EO 11246 provided even greater, more rigorous protections and created a federal office (now known as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance) to enforce his EO. He also added sex discrimination to the office's mandate. Ford and Carter made additional EO's building on the LBJ order.

    When Reagan hinted he might revoke EO 11246, Congress threatened to make the provisions federal law over the President's veto and had the numbers to do it. Reagan backed off and EO 11246 has remained in affect to this day.

    These executive orders prior to 1964, including Truman's EO 9981 desegregating the military, played a crucial role in building towards a federal law to accomplish the same affect. This path, these smaller steps have been denied to us with Obama's failure to sign an order covering federal contractors despite his 2008 campaign pledge to the Houston LGBT Caucus that he supported such an order.

    The DOJ and DOL have drafted an order for the President to sign and it was ready at the beginning of last year. For a year their response of signing it has been "not at this time." The time for the EO is long past. It was long past time for it when he entered office four years ago when a Gallup poll showed 89% of Americans supporting equal employment opportunities for gays and lesbians. It was long past time for it when Bill Clinton entered office in 1993 when another Gallup poll showed support for equal employment opportunities for gays and lesbians to be supported by 80% of the American people. He needs to sign it....NOW

    "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

    by craigkg on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:27:31 PM PST

  •  Who would the executive order cover? (0+ / 0-)

    Contractors, I understand, but what about hospitals or universities that receive government funds? I can see the RC Bishops going bananas again about their religious freedom to discriminate.

    •  It would cover any company now covered under (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decafdyke, sfbob

      the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, which enforces non-discrimination provisions based on race, creed, ethnicity, national origin and sex.

      "Lesbian and gay people are a permanent part of the American workforce, who currently have no protection from the arbitrary abuse of their rights on the job." --Coretta Scott King

      by craigkg on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:38:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Any company that has any contracts (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      craigkg, sfbob

      So if a parent company had a subsidiary with a contract, the parent company and all it's subsidiaries would need to comply.

      In today's world of multi-national mega corporations it would be very far reaching. Much bigger than you might assume (22% of the workforce).

      Supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Adlai Stevenson: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

      by Scott Wooledge on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 03:06:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My boss at the university of Nebraska (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg, Scott Wooledge, sfbob

    Told me not to come out, because firing for being gay was completely legal and she could not protect me.   She was afraid that the university's non- discrimination policy would be overturned by the state legislature if it was ever tested -- that is, it meant nothing in actual plication.That was fifteen years ago.   Nothing has changed in Nebraska.

    "Let's see what fresh fuckwittery these dolts can contrive to torment themselves with this time." -- Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:44:22 PM PST

    •  That's a shame. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      craigkg, Rikon Snow, sfbob

      It's a shame you have to live with that, even with a protection policy.

      And state legislatures forbidding this type of non-discrimination policy is real. It happened in TN already.

      Supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Adlai Stevenson: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

      by Scott Wooledge on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 03:08:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So, It's TIME (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg, Scott Wooledge, sfbob

    for all who read this to CALL, Write, FAX your Congress critters & the White House and "Request" that something be done to resolve this issue, whether it's an executive order, or a LAW it needs to be done.!!!

    Senate Switchboard # 202-224-3121

    House Switchboard  # 202-225-3121

    White House Switchboard # 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414

    The more that call the sooner it will happen...

    The man who knows and knows he knows not is a wise man

    by OpherGopher on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:47:07 PM PST

  •  LGB, Scott. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana, gizmo59, craigkg, sfbob

    There has not been all that much for the T.

    •  Not enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But passport change reform, addition of GI to federal agencies' nondiscrimination policies, appointments of Diego Sanchez and Amanda Simpson, and incremental progress on VA health care count for something.

      by decafdyke on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 05:26:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's worth noting... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...that trans people got some measure of employment protection earlier this year when the EEOC ruled that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is de facto sex discrimination under Title VII. This does nothing for access to public accommodations and housing, but they can't actually fire you for being trans. This does a fat lot of good for those of us in right to get fired states, but at least they need to be more creative with their reasons. An all inclusive ENDA would be nice, in any case.  

  •  Here is a link to the video of that discussion (0+ / 0-)

    on C-SPAN. A superb panel.

    Williams Institute Post-Election Analysis
    Nov 14

    America—We built that!

    by Mokurai on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:13:42 AM PST

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