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.