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Denied: White House says ‘no’ to ENDA executive order

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
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WASHINGTON — The White House has categorically denied requests from LGBT advocates to issue an executive order protecting LGBT people against workplace discrimination at this time, according to individuals who took part in a White House meeting on Wednesday. The denial was corroborated by a senior administrative official.

In a statement to the Washington Blade, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign and among the attendees, said advocates were told the administration won’t take action to bar federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

“Earlier today, we were told that the administration is not ready to move forward with a federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order at this time,” Solmonese said. “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. Given the number of employees that would be covered by this executive order, it represents a critical step forward.”

Solmonese continued that extensive research and polling has been done demonstrating that the executive order would be a useful tool and would enjoy broad support.

“Ten years of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, as well as the research of our partner organizations to include the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, demonstrate that there is ample rationale for this kind of order,” Solmonese said. “No similar executive order has ever had this kind of extensive research or factual basis established. While we believe that further study is unnecessary, we will continue to engage with the Administration to ensure that the case is made even stronger for workplace protections.”

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said in a statement on the meeting that Obama remains committed to legislation that would bar workplace discrimination against LGBT people known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“The president is dedicated to securing equal rights for LGBT Americans and that is why he has long supported an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Inouye said. “The president is committed to lasting and comprehensive change and therefore our goal is passage of ENDA, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination – just as the president pressed for legislative repeal of ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'].”

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the administration doesn’t expect to issue an executive order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time.

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