November 15, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Carney fires back at Boehner over ENDA
White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, Gay News, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney says the votes are present in the House to pass ENDA (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas).

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney fired back Friday at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for comments he made against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but maintained that President Obama will continue the legislative track for non-discrimination protections for LGBT workers as opposed to an executive order.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade on whether President Obama would reconsider the heavily sought directive in the wake of Boehner’s comments, Carney said the speaker’s comments in opposition to ENDA of course, are “of course, disappointing.”

“I think that those who oppose this legislation are taking the wrong position, and they’re taking a position that, I think, history will prove to be wrong as has been the case in seminal civil rights legislation throughout our history in this country,” Carney said. “Basic equality is fundamental to who we are as a nation, and our history is, in part, a story of efforts and struggles to reach that ideal where equality is not only an aspiration, but a fact. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a piece of that story, and it ought to be passed by Congress, passed by the House as it was by the Senate because this president will it into law.”

Carney was responding to remarks that Boehner gave during his weekly news conference in which he said he sees “no basis or no need” for ENDA, which would bar employers from discriminating against LGBT employees, when by the Blade if he would allow a floor vote on the bill.

Additionally, Carney also said the White House is among the supporters of ENDA who think that the legislation would pass on the House floor if Republican leadership bring it up for a vote.

“We are not at all yet to ready to believe that the fight is over in the House because it is the president’s strong conviction that this is right thing to do, and that the arguments against it do not hold up to scrutiny or the test of history, so we’re going to keep fighting for the House to take it up and urging the House to take it up,” Carney said. “We believe that if it were given a vote on the floor that it would pass, and that Democrats and Republicans would vote ‘yes’ and the president would sign it into law, and we believe, as you and I have discussed over these past many months and years, that that is the best solution here, and we’re continue to fight for it.”

By saying the White House believes ENDA has the votes to pass if he reached the House floor, Carney positions himself with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and the Human Rights Campaign.

Asked by the Blade whether Obama would at least threaten to issue the executive order if House Republican leadership continues to hold up ENDA, Carney maintained the focus of the White House is on legislation.

“I think that we’re focused on getting this legislation passed right now, Chris, and for the reasons I just discussed, we believe that resistance to it will eventually fall away because the rightness of it will prevail,” Carney said.

Watch the video here:

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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