White House Press Secretary Jay Carney changed his tune Monday about an executive order that would protect LGBT workers against discrimination in response to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) restated opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Hours before an anticipated Senate vote on ENDA, Carney responded to questions about the heavily sought executive order from the Associated Press’ Julie Pace by saying legislation is the “preferable” route to protect route LGBT workers, but left the door open for administrative action.
“What we’ve said about this is two things,” Carney said. “One, the preferable and better path has been through Congress because that would be inclusive. An executive order that addresses federal contractors obviously would not be inclusive; it would not extend beyond federal contracts. So, we’re focused on getting ENDA through Congress. When I used to answer questions about an executive order by saying that, there was great skepticism that it would get this far, and we have come to a moment where quite likely, in fact possible, that the Senate will pass this, so we’re going to keep pressing ahead.”
Carney use of the past tense in his response — “what we’ve said about this” and “when I used to answer questions about an executive order” — suggests that the White House position that an executive order won’t happen at this time is being reconsidered.
Immediately after the briefing, the Washington Blade shouted out to Carney an inquiry on whether the president is now open to signing the executive order. Carney gave no response.
Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, insisted after the briefing that the White House strategy for protecting LGBT workers against discrimination is the same.
“As we have said before, our focus right now remains on getting ENDA through Congress,” Inouye said. “I have no other updates for you.”