Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday
told The Huffington Post that he sees no “downside” to an
executive order banning workplace discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and gender identity, but added that a law would be
the better solution.
“I don't see any downside,” Biden
answered when asked about President Barack Obama's reluctance to sign
an executive order targeting federal contractors. “The way to do
this is to pass ENDA. That ends it everywhere.”
When pressed on the issue of LGBT
protections, Biden said that Obama “doesn't have the ability to ban
it” and called ENDA “the single best, most significant way to do
“I'm still hopeful,” he
said of passage.
Obama has repeatedly rejected calls to
sign an executive order, saying a law such as ENDA (the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act) would offer a broader and more durable
However, Sarah Warbelow, legal director
for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said that an executive order
targeting federal contractors would offer additional protections.
“If we had ENDA but no executive
order, you could sue a federal contractor. But there's no ability
for the government to say, 'Hey, it's completely inappropriate that
you engaged in discrimination against a class of people, and if you
want a contract with us again, you have to stop that behavior,'”
“It's a very big deal, and it's also
why we need both ENDA and the executive order,” she added.
Last year, ENDA cleared the Senate with
bipartisan support. And while Obama has pledged his signature, House
Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, has refused to call a
vote on the legislation.
Boehner: Gay workplace protections bill ENDA won't pass this year.)