Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign, Vice President Joe Biden had justifiably harsh words for workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—but focused on a call for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act rather than on an executive order applying to federal contractors that President Barack Obama could sign right now:
Biden on Saturday called LGBT workplace discrimination “close to barbaric” and “bizarre” in a speech to the Human Rights Campaign. [...]Screamed, really? Congress should be screamed at, but that's probably an extreme description of what Biden did. In any case, the House should join the Senate in having passed ENDA. But since John Boehner is not exactly racing to call a vote on that, Obama should also sign an executive order, which would extend ENDA's protections to at least some workers who are currently vulnerable to workplace discrimination which is, yes, close to barbaric.
Biden proudly reminded the HRC crowd in Los Angeles on Saturday that he’d been the one who first spoke out on gay marriage in 2012, widely seen as boxing in Obama to declare his own “evolution” days later. So the vice president’s comments about employee discrimination—“Imagine, 20 years from now, as America looks back and say, ‘How in the hell could that have ever been allowed?’” — raised the prospect that he might be at it again.
Instead, Biden—who remains in his heart a legislator who likes legislative solutions—didn’t say anything about the executive order and screamed at Congress to pass ENDA.