Roughly a dozen members of GetEQUAL and the Maryland Light Brigade held panels with illuminated letters that spelled out “Sign ENDA EO” on the Ellipse and in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“The State of the Union is coming up in two days and our hope would be the president would get the message,” Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, told the Washington Blade. “He has the power to take action to end employment discrimination.”
Obama specifically mentioned gay men and lesbians, marriage rights for same-sex couples and the Stonewall riots in his second inaugural address last month. LGBT advocates with whom the Blade spoke last week said they hope the president would urge lawmakers during his State of the Union address on Tuesday to pass the long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act this year.
“While it is not our usual practice to discuss executive orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an executive order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye told the Blade in response to GetEQUAL’s protest. “We support ENDA and we will continue to work to build support for it.”
Cronk said such an executive order would impact a quarter of the American workforce.
“If he [Obama] is taking workplace equality seriously and if he’s taking unemployment seriously than this is something that he could do very easily the night of the State of the Union and show LGBT Americans that he’s actually in our corner in a significant way,” she said.