429 Magazine

Obama doesn't sign LGBT Executive Order


By Ryan Collett

On Wednesday, President Obama refused to sign an Executive Order that would have ended employment discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation.

The Labor and Justice Department supported the order which would have protected homosexuals from job discrimination at the federal level. Subsequently, all employers with federal contracts would have had LGBT protections in place.

Currently, there are no laws that protect homosexuals from employment discrimination by federal contractors. While Obama has previously expressed support for such protections, Congress still lacks the necessary votes to implement them.

An Obama administration official spoke of the issue to the New York Times, saying that they would, “support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with Congressional sponsors to build support for it.”

Serious proponents for gay rights protections in employment say the move reveals a double standard in the Obama administration.

In the past year, Obama has signed dozens of executive orders on issues ranging from intellectual property rights to US involvement in Syria. The orders stem from Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign, a plan set in motion last year as a way to not let “congressional gridlock” (as the campaign’s website calls it) interfere with important legislation needed in the country. The campaign’s issuing of Executive Orders is a way for important bills to bypass reluctant voters in Congress.

Gay rights activists are crying foul over what they see as a double standard. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said on Wednesday, “we are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an Executive Order from the President. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender.”

Obama’s refusal to sign the Executive Order comes at a time when his reelection campaign is picking up momentum. While his signing of further gay rights legislation could deter important voters, his refusal on Wednesday could endanger his campaign’s funding from LGBT organizations.

Written By:
Ryan Collett
Ryan Collett
Fri, Apr 13, 2012
Comment by Bill Hansen
over 4 years ago

This is a man who knocked Hillary out of the running because he vowed not to play politics and to change the way "things are done" in Washington. By not signing the order, he's basically telling the gay community that he'll worry about them when it's politically acceptable, knowing most gays will vote for him over Romney. In other words, politics as usual. I may vote for him in November (because he is better than Romeny), however, I will no longer financially contribute to his campaign. He may be the best of two options, but that cab be a dangerous standard (in my opinion) to hold elected officials to.

Comment by Derek Williams
over 4 years ago

I don't agree that a royal decree, i.e. Executive Order, is the way forward. The President could have used this power to invalidate DADT, but chose instead to let it go to Congress, in other words, to the People. That was in my view, a political masterstroke. Not only did it result in wide-ranging and far-reaching debate, but it also proved that the American people supported such a sea-change. Using the Executive Order in this case is very different because it is shoving something down the public's throats despite their apparent support. It's one thing for people to say to pollsters that they don't mind gays "so long as they stay out of my bedroom", it is quite another to force them to employ members of a disliked minority. The outcome will almost certainly be widespread civil disobedience and a very low compliance rate, ultimately undermining not on the Executive Order itself, but all future such decrees once it becomes apparent they can be flouted with impunity. Anti-discrimination legislation is not like the others for which the President has exercised his power to rule by decree. Such laws in essence, force employers to hire LGBT people whom they utterly despise. This can hardly be pleasant for either the hater or the hated. The LGBT minority needs to do a lot more footwork to deliver the President rock solid grounds for over-riding Congress, or better yet, work on the Republican Congress so the outcome cannot so easily be overturned by an incoming Republican presidency, whose incumbent candidates have already promised to reinstate DADT and uphold DOMA. "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

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