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President Barack Obama talks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi following a meeting with Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office, July 11, 2012. At left, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin talks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (Official White
When President Barack Obama said he'd sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, it raised the question of why he wasn't ordering another expansion of protections for the same group of workers: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The president had in the past explained that he wanted Congress to act on ENDA rather than taking executive action—but if he was bypassing Congress on minimum wage where he could, why not on protections for LGBT workers? Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has given Obama the go-ahead to do just that:
"If the president decides to do it, I’d be in favor of it," Reid told The Huffington Post, in the halls of the Capitol.

A number of Democratic leaders think Obama should take action, since related legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has hit a wall in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says he won't give it a vote. The White House argues that executive action wouldn't go far enough, since Obama only has the ability to ban discrimination among government contractors, whereas legislation would apply to all employers.

Still, an executive order could protect as many as 16 million workers.

That's far more than the couple hundred thousand who will get raises under the president's minimum wage order. The situations are so similar: John Boehner is standing in the way of a House vote on bills that might well pass, and the president has the power to take action that would cover at least some workers. In fact, ENDA actually has passed the Senate. With Harry Reid joining House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in saying that Obama should do what he can to bypass Congress on this issue, it's time.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 07:45 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Spot on. (nt) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea

    I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

    by VirginiaJeff on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 08:36:04 AM PST

    •  this is a good idea that I endorse with (0+ / 0-)

      every fiber of my being as it also helps the party long term and helps shore up the attack on democratic  donors.

      http://www.actblue.com/page/accountabilitynow If the dnc dscc or dccc send you mailers, send that link back to them and tell them you won't send money to people who defend democrats who betray progressive principals!

      by daeros on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:46:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The same could be said for min wage: (0+ / 0-)
    The White House argues that executive action wouldn't go far enough, since Obama only has the ability to ban discrimination among government contractors, whereas legislation would apply to all employers
    If the WH actually believes this, why are they raising the minimum wage for contractors? And if they believe the rhetoric around the EO raising the minimum wage for contractors, why aren't they doing everything they can along the same lines?

    "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

    by Hayate Yagami on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 11:18:30 AM PST

  •  Why not? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg

    I'll remember this the next time (and the next 1000 times) I get e-mails from the Obama minions asking for my money.  (I already hate the ones with the subject line "Real quick.)

  •  Does ENDA cover older workers? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bananapouch1

    Or just LGBT workers?

    L'enfer, c'est les autres....Jean-Paul Sartre

    by Keith930 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:26:15 PM PST

    •  it covers sexual orientation and gender identity (0+ / 0-)

      In other words, it covers everyone. It would ban a straight person from being fired because he or she is straight just as it would cover a LGBT person being fired for being LGBT. The executive order that is being sought would apply to federal contractors in the same way that Executive Order 11246 protects federal contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, that is its protections are more extensive than the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and thus is not some superfluous symbol, but a real, meaningful value added to the CRA's protections.

      "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 Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:35:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is vital for transgender workers that we have.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg, psychodrew, typo ink

    ...some sort of protection.  So far we have relied on companies to do it on their own, plus 17 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  Every little bit would help...but too often even the little bit is too big a step for some to take.

    •  Doesn't gender cover transgender people? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rserven

      I was under the impression that sex discrimination laws already cover people who are transgender. Or are the protections weaker?

      •  That is from an administrative ruling (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bananapouch1, rserven, Stephen N

        It is on somewhat shaky ground as it is arguable that the legislative intent of "sex" in the 1960's when Title VII of the CRA of 1964 was passed did not include gender identity. Gender identity has been included in sex in the more modern interpretation because the term sex in the 1960's intent unquestionably contained a prohibition on gender stereotyping and most gender identity discrimination is based on gender stereotyping. It would be far better for it to be included in explicit legislative language rather than relying on the continuance of an easily modified EEOC administrative ruling.

        "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 Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:59:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree. Passing ENDA is better. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rserven

          That will codify the language explicitly, and keep it there permanently. Executive orders and administrative rulings can be changed quickly and easily depending on who is in charge.

          •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

            Many Presidents have been hesitant to reverse their predecessors EO's such as this. Case in point, George W. Bush kept Clinton's EO 13087 banning sexual orientation discrimination in the federal workforce. Expanding Clinton's EO to include 1) gender identity and 2) federal contractors is the next logical step and Obama has been undercutting us by not moving forward on this after 5 years in office. It was a campaign promise and he's reneged on it.

            "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 Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:16:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    onionjim, craigkg

    Lets hope he issues an enforceable Executive Order on this. Exec Orders, as I've been saying for years, are the best way to move the country forward and fix the economy.  But they have to be good enforceable EOs that can actually result in real action. No window dressing.  If Obama is serious about using these, he'll assign people tofollow up and make sure the orders are carried out.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:43:50 PM PST

  •  Once again.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg

    ....we have to beg the president to keep one of his campaign promises.

    Tyrion Lannister: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."

    by psychodrew on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:50:07 PM PST

    •  I know...this is getting old... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew

      ...no, scratch that...this has been an old for too long. Obama is being very intellectually dishonest with respect to his justification for not signing the ENDA EO when you have EO 11246 still on the books as valid (having been renewed by every President since 1965) AND have Obama acting to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors by EO because Congress won't act on minimum wage legislation just as Boehner has kiboshed the notion of bringing ENDA to a vote in the House.

      "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 Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:04:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also close Gitmo (0+ / 0-)

      I am sure that can be done with executive order as commander in chief.

  •  Asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg

    Obama's logic escapes me here...

    He will not issue an EO since it does not cover all employees.

    So by his logic, I should eschew condoms and seat belts because they are not 100% effective?

    The best way to tell a Democrat from a Republican is to present someone requiring food and shelter. The Democrat will want them housed and fed, even if they be faking need. The Republican will gladly see them starve until all doubt is removed.

    by GayIthacan on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:51:15 PM PST

  •  How simple is that? (0+ / 0-)

    The president of the US fights to uphold the constitution and will have the RW in a rage. I, for one, welcome that.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:54:14 PM PST

  •  Legislation is the only answer. (0+ / 0-)

    If Obama enacts this executive order, a Republican president could rescind it on January 20th 2017, and this would become a Mexico City Policy. IMO it is a better idea for Obama to call out House leadership on this bill (which he didn't do during SOTU), have other members of the party shame Boehner for blocking a vote on it, use it in campaign ads this fall, and leadership will fold, just like with the LGBT-inclusive VAWA. On a flip side I don't see how Boehner can be this short-sighted. He knows that Republican presidential candidates will be asked about this in 2016, and if they don't offer their support, you will get ads stating that "Ted Cruz/Rand Paul/Scott Walker" believes employers should be able to fire gay workers!

    •  Yes, just as Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bananapouch1

      and Bush II rescinded the executive order protections based on race and national origin put in place by FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and LBJ. OH...Wait, They DIDN'T rescind them. The Executive Order issued by LBJ is still in affect 49 years after he signed it and it was modeled in large part on the prior EOs by his predecessors dating back to FDR's EO 8802 in 1941. This notion that it will be easily reversed is not borne out by history. In fact quite the opposite, they built momentum for the lasting legislation in the 1960's. In essence, Obama, by not signing the EO, is taking a crowbar to the knees of the LGBT equality movement by making us climb a far greater hurdle than was ever required for the protections based on race. If FDR didn't issue EO 8802 (which banned racial discrimination by defense contractors) and FDR's successor EO that banned racial discrimination by federal contractors, Truman wouldn't have had the basis on which ti issue EO 9981 desegregating the military, which would have undercut the basis for Brown v Board of Education and down come the dominos of the CRA of 1957, the CRA of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing and Credit Act (CRA of 1968), etc.

      "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 Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:13:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember learning about this. (0+ / 0-)

        That in the 1940s Congress held hearings on federal defense contractors and their hiring policies, and they openly admitted that they placed ads for "white" skilled workers and "colored" janitors. Discrimination isn't obviously as prevalent as it was then, although it certainly does exist. Are there any data available on what percentage of federal contractors have LGBT discrimination policies themselves?

  •  What I hate about this photo: (0+ / 0-)

    This isn't a photo-op kinda picture.

    Yet, between those four people there is probably about $5,000 with of clothing.

    And $500 worth of hair cut services.

    I would like to see somebody in elected office go to work in Dockers. Or a JC Penny outfit. On a regular basis.

    I don't want to see any more hair spray hair cuts on men and non-movable hair on women.

    Is that too much to ask?

    For the public servants - the folks that work for us - to dress like us.

    No there's a bi-partisan request.

  •  great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    craigkg

    Obama has nothing to lose by doing this.  There are no longer any moderate conservatives whom he could win over by avoiding taking liberal actions as president.  There is nothing to be lost.  What is to be gained is that he will, as long as he continues to act independently, gain stature and look more powerful.  Timidity makes him appear weak.  Look at Lyndon Johnson.  Obama should take the option of twisting arms and plowing on against the tide of obstructionism.  If the Republicans gain control of the presidency, don't you think they will take every executive action they can to further their agenda?

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