April 17, 2014 | by Peter Rosenstein
Obama must keep promise to LGBT workers
Barack Obama, LGBT workers, Election 2012, gay news, Washington Blade, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare

President Barack Obama (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama signed two more executive orders continuing to make good on his promise to move issues forward that aren’t being dealt with by Congress. Many applaud his efforts because waiting for this Congress to act is like “Waiting for Godot.”

Women were the beneficiaries of the two executive orders he signed last week. The time is way past due for us to deal with the disparities in pay between men and women in the workplace. The New York Times reported, “He signed two executive measures intended to help close longstanding pay disparities between men and women as Democrats seek to capitalize on their gender-gap advantage at the ballot box in a midterm election year.”

The Times continued, “Mr. Obama, standing in front of a platform of women in a picture-ready ceremony in the East Room of the White House, said his actions would make it easier for women to learn whether they had been cheated by employers. He called on Congress to pass legislation that would take more significant steps.”

In signing these executive orders the president has put the Republican Party on the defensive and raised the question of why anyone would be opposed to equal pay for equal work. This continuing economic inequality is just another indication that the fight for equal rights for women is not yet won. Whether it is equal pay or the right to control their healthcare, the current leadership of the Republican Party thinks the way to move forward is to go back to the 18th century.

So I join with others who believe the president is taking the right position by signing these orders while at the same time imploring Congress to move on legislation in these areas. What I question is why he seems so averse to moving the ball forward when it comes to LGBT employment rights. While he is fighting for equal pay for women, there are lesbians who can’t even get employment because of discrimination. For them it’s not about equal pay it’s about any pay.

There are lesbian heads of household who are being denied employment by federal contractors because the president refuses to make good on a campaign promise from his 2008 campaign. At that time he ran on a slogan of “Hope and Change” and the LGBT community by large majorities supported him because of that. They put their trust in him to bring about positive change for the community.

In many ways both large and small he has done that. The president’s evolving to support marriage equality has been life altering for many in the community. It has allowed many people to have their families be fully recognized. He has hired members of the LGBT community on his staff and throughout government. He spoke out about equality for the LGBT community around the world at the United Nations and has made a huge statement to the world about our belief in equality by naming a number of openly LGBT persons to be ambassadors.

So what is stopping him from issuing the order to bar anti-LGBT workplace bias among federal contractors? This lack of action on his part is so perplexing given the other efforts he has made to move the ball forward toward full civil and human rights for the LGBT community.

Recently the White House press office stated that the president believes that signing this order would be redundant. The Washington Blade reported that Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign referring to the executive orders the president signed said, “Issuing these executive orders helps build momentum for Congress to act on paycheck fairness legislation. The exact same logic applies to the executive order that would afford protections to the LGBT workers of federal contractors. By the stroke of his pen, the president can immediately protect over 16 million workers and pressure Congress to pass ENDA. There is simply no reason for President Obama to wait one second longer.”

Anyone who believes in equality must join with the 47 senators and 148 representatives who have sent a letter calling on the president to sign the order. President Obama: the time to keep your promise is NOW.

4 Comments
  • It’s not all that perplexing. He’s a politician. They don’t do things because it’s the right thing, they do things when they are politically expedient. It’s entirely possible that the President feels he has expended more than enough of his political capital on gay issues and plans to leave something for the next Democrat to dangle in front of us in 2016. ENDA should be just enough to get us to heel and open our wallets don’t you think?

    • Not at all. It will be done after the Midterms and as you say ‘they do things when they are politically expedient’ well so does Catania but who is complaining? Also you said ‘It’s entirely possible that the President feels he has expended more than enough of his political capital on gay issues’ No he’s waitng after the November elections and then he will do it.

  • Stop Obama Hypocrisy: Stop $$ to Natl Dems

    “There are lesbian heads of household who are being denied employment by federal contractors because the president refuses to make good on a campaign promise from his 2008 campaign.” — Peter Rosenstein
    —-
    “It’s entirely possible that the President feels he has expended more than enough of his political capital on gay issues and plans to leave something for the next Democrat to dangle in front of us in 2016.” — IJS
    ========================================================
     
    Aside from what I assume to be an unintentional exclusionary misstatement, I agree with Peter. I am sure Peter Rosenstein understands that federal contractor discrimination is being perpetrated against gay, bisexual and transgender parents and heads of households, too.
     
    Moreover, IJS’ comment is closer to some inescapable and inconvenient truths for all of us.
     
    – It is OBAMA who is the titular Chief Executive Officer of federal services and procurement
     
    – It is OBAMA who is titular head of the National Democratic Party.
     
    – It is OBAMA and the NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY who are, after years of inexplicable foot-dragging, NOW tacitly complicit in workplace discrimination against LGBT federal contract workers.
     
    That anti-LGBT federal contractor discrimination is happening every damn day that passes without Obama’s promised presidential action to protect them.
     
    It is long past time for national party donors — both LGBT and straight — to the DNC, DSSC, DCCC and all 2016 presidential campaign organizations, to recognize those inconvenient facts.
     
    It is long past time for national party donors — both LGBT and straight — to look at themselves in the mirror and recognize that THEIR donor dollars are likely being used against THEIR LGBT brothers and sisters– right NOW, so that dishonest, hypocritical Dem party operatives can HAVE and USE the issue for 2014 and 2016 fundraising.
     
    Hillary Clinton’s litmus test for LGBT support is right now, too. It is so not enough for Hillary to make Obama-like empty promises to LGBTs workplace non-discrimination for sometime way over yonder in 2017. That dog won’t hunt, so long as the titular head of her party is furthering LGBT discrimination by his intentional inaction on an EO.
     
    Indeed, let’s find out just how complicit all national Democratic candidates are in this anti-LGBT Obama Administration/ national Dems hypocrisy.
     
    –BriansIons

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