President Barack Obama is coming under
heavy criticism for deciding against signing an executive order
protecting LGBT workers.
Senior Obama administration officials
on Wednesday said the order which would ban federal contractors from
employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity was not forthcoming. The order had reportedly already been
approved by the Departments of Labor and Justice.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay
Carney insisted that the president does support such protections but
would prefer to see Congress approve the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) sponsored by Massachusetts Rep. Barney
Frank and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. ENDA, however, has little
chance of passage in the Republican-controlled House.
“The president is committed to
securing equal rights for LGBT Americans, and that is why he has long
supported ENDA,” Carney said. “The approach we're taking at this
time is try to build support for passage of this legislation, a
comprehensive approach, to legislate on the issue of
Speaking on SiriusXM's OutQ,
Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, criticized the
administration's arguments as “weak,” The
Huffington Post reported.
“It was weak, it was shallow, it was
unpersuasive,” said Almeida, who attended a White House meeting on
the decision. “It floated back and forth between different
reasons. It wasn't even consistent. There were a few younger,
junior staffers who made some arguments that were just laughable.
Democratic strategist Paul Yandura also
criticized leading gay rights advocates the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) for their
“They've sent nothing out to their
list on this,” said Yandura, a co-founder of the gay rights group
GetEqual. “So, if they're supposed to be leading on ENDA –
they're failing. … Why wouldn't [NGLTF's] Rea Carey and [HRC's] Joe
Solmonese grow a pair and come out and say 'I'm not going to stop
until you sign this?'”
Jonathan Lewis, the son of former
Progressive Insurance CEO Peter Lewis, also joined the chorus,
Washington Post that the president “has not been able to
provide a single valid reason for why he is now refusing to sign the
executive order protecting LGBT workers. It has become increasingly
clear that this decision is based on cowardice rather than principled
Lewis said he would put up $100,000 of
his own money to fund a We Can't Wait campaign.