December 5, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
Still no answer on ENDA executive order

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to provide an immediate answer Monday as to why President Obama hasn’t taken administrative action to institute non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in the workplace.

In response to a question from the Washington Blade, Carney said he could look into the issue of what might be preventing President Obama from issuing an executive order prohibiting federal dollars from going to companies that don’t have non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I don’t have anything new for you on that, so I don’t have probably an answer that will move that story along for you,” Carney said. “But if you want to ask me, I can look into it for you.”

Carney has been asked about such a directive before and what Obama is doing to provide LGBT workers with non-discrimination protections, but the White House hasn’t said whether the president would issue the executive order.

In response to a request to follow up on Carney’s comments, Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said later Monday via e-mail, “We have no updates for you.”

Obama supports legislation known as the Employment Non-Discrimation Act, which would prohibit job bias against LGBT workers in most situations in the private and public workforce. But the legislation is unlikely to pass as long as Republicans remain in control of the House.

The executive order has been seen as interim alternative to the passage of ENDA as well as an alternate way to protect LGBT workers against discrimination in the workplace. The executive order would provide recourse through the Department of Labor while ENDA would provide recourse through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A transcript of the exchange between the Blade and Carney follows:

Washington Blade: I want to follow up on what I asked you about earlier on the lack of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in the workplace. The president supports legislation known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would address this issue, but he can also take administration action. He can issue an executive order saying federal dollars won’t go to contractors that don’t have their own non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If the president supports legislation to address this issue, what’s stopping him from issuing an executive order that would move toward the same goal?

Jay Carney: Chris, I don’t have anything new for you on that, so I don’t have probably an answer that will move that story along for you. But if you want to ask me, I can look into it for you.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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