Via Chris Geidner, this is really weird and cynical behavior from the Obama Administration.
Facing continued fallout from the Obama administration’s decision not to proceed with an executive order banning LGBT discrimination by federal contractors, White House spokesman Shin Inouye tells Metro Weekly today that “the time is right for a comprehensive legislative approach” to address anti-LGBT workplace discrimination — a reference to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — although he added that “the Administration hasn’t taken any options off the table.” [...]
Advocates from the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress and Freedom to Work, though, all found today’s response lacking — at least as to its focus on ENDA to the detriment of the executive order path.
HRC vice president for communications Fred Sainz tells Metro Weekly that today’s statement ignores the “political realities in 2012″ — from the Republican control of the House to the difficulty of reaching 60-vote support in the Senate — that prevent ENDA from being “a viable option,” and Freedom to Work president Tico Almeida says that, even on the legislative front, the administration needs to put action behind today’s comments in order to prove its sincerity on the issue.
I have to agree with HRC that the time is most certainly not “right” for ENDA in the political sense of the term, though the time has been right for it on a moral level for many years. This is a uniquely cautious White House, so spooked about the election as to not even use its power to write an executive order preventing LGBT discrimination by federal contractors, and now they announce “the time is right” to pass ENDA without delay? It doesn’t pass the smell test.
Let me add an addendum to my comments on this issue from yesterday. It turns out that Jonathan Lewis, the wealthy scion planning to fund activism against the President over the anti-discrimination executive order, also actively funded GetEQUAL, the organization which bird-dogged Obama over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the degree that the policy got repealed. The full story is told here by Kerry Eleveld in The Advocate. So if Lewis is getting the same band back together over the executive order, Obama’s campaign has a real headache on their hands.
By the way, one of the reasons I think LGBT activism has been so successful, other than the cultural forces improving possibilities for pro-LGBT policies generally, is that an active and engaged LGBT media has been willing to challenge power in ways that other media has not. Geidner, Eleveld and LGBT bloggers do a great job, and they have been a major asset to the pro-equality movement.