Sunday, April 15, 2012

It’s Not The Enda of ENDA


Buried in The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, April 12, 2012, in small font, was an article “Obama Won’t Issue Ban on Gay Discrimination.” It stated that Barack Obama won’t issue an executive order banning discrimination against gay and lesbian workers by federal contractors. For such a tiny piece, it has had major impact on the GLBT community and for the estimated 16 million workers who could be fired for their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Some supporters consider this a second choice to broader legislation that would ban discrimination by non-federal employers as well. This ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has been ping-ponging around Congress since 1994.

Reactions to President’s Decision

The news was delivered by Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to gay-right activists at a meeting the preceding day. Blog reactions varied from politely-stated disbeliefs that a president who repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and refused to defend DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) in court could back away from this measure to a more succinct “WTF?”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Joe Solmonese reported that he was particularly shocked considering the extensive research or factual basis established for the necessity for such a measure.

Future Plans for Fighting Obama’s Decision

But equality activists aren’t going to take this lying down.They vow to keep pushing Obama on this issue. One prominent liberal donor said he would spend $100,000 to fund a “We Can’t Wait” campaign targeting Obama.This money would be used to fly victims of workplace discrimination at federal contracting firms to Washington to amp up public attention to this bill and confront Obama as well. 

Public Kept in the Dark 

Obama’s White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeats that the President wants to focus on creating a national Employment Non-Discrimination Act yet we’re never told why Obama disapproved of the order that he campaigned for as far back as 2008.

Could it be our populist President is waiting until after the election because a.) he needs the support of business interests resistant to further regulation? Or b.) is he waiting in the shadow for the Republicans to act? Or c.) all of the above? Our President who states he is “evolving” about his stance on same-sex marriage has not evolved on this issue either.

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