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Carney: ENDA would make executive order ‘redundant’

LGBT advocates pounce on notion that directive unnecessary if law enacted



White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, Gay News, Washington Blade
Jay Carney, White House, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he believes an executive order would be redundant with ENDA in place. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday he believes passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would make “redundant” an executive order barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors — an assertion that advocates say is untrue as they continue to press for both legislation and the directive.

Carney made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether passage of ENDA — which has already passed the Senate, but remains pending in the House — would change the thinking of President Obama on the executive order, which he continues to withhold despite continued pressure from LGBT rights supporters.

“I think if the law passed — and I’m not a lawyer — and I haven’t read every sentence of the law, but I think if a law passed that broadly banned this kind of employment discrimination, it would make redundant an executive order,” Carney said.

Carney articulated his belief that an executive order would be “redundant” in the event ENDA became law after emphasizing the broad-based protections under the bill, which applies not just to federal contractors, but to many public and private employers.

“I think the employment non-discrimination legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would broadly apply, and that’s one of the reasons why we support it,” Carney said. “Because it’s a broad solution to the problem, and it ought to be passed by Congress.”

When the Blade pointed out there are possible instances of LGBT discrimination that ENDA wouldn’t cover, but may be covered under the executive order, Carney called such potential acts of anti-LGBT job bias “hypothetical.”

“Well, that could be, hypothetically, but I think we’d like to see the legislation passed,” Carney said. “That would be a good thing.”

LGBT advocates disputed the notion that an executive order barring LGBT discrimination would be redundant if ENDA were law, saying both are necessary to enable greater legal protections for LGBT workers.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said his organization is directly at odds with Carney’s assertion and blasted the White House spokesperson for being “completely out of step.”

“We couldn’t disagree more,” Sainz said. “Even if ENDA passed tomorrow, we’d still want the EO. His assertion is completely out of step with over 60 years of social change strategy related to enduring legal protections for race and gender and more recently for hate crimes and non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. What he’s asserting is the equivalent of saying that if ENDA passed tomorrow, we wouldn’t need non-discrimination laws in the majority of states that still don’t have them. That’s absolutely not the case.”

Other categories for individuals — race, color, religion, sex or national origin — are protected under current law by Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and by Executive Order 11246, which is enforced by the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Both were put in place under former President Lyndon Johnson.

Ian Thompson, legislative representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, said both ENDA and an executive order are needed to provide “parallel protections” for LGBT people enjoyed by other categories of workers.

“Race discrimination, for example, is prohibited under both Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 11246,” Thompson said. “It’s certainly our opinion and our view that the same should apply to LGBT workplace discrimination as well. Even if ENDA were to be passed and signed into law tomorrow, we would still advocate for and want the executive order, and absolutely, definitely do not see it as redundant.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, also insisted that legislation and an executive order are necessary to provide full protections to LGBT workers.

“We need both,” Carey said. “We urge the president to use his power and act immediately with an executive order that protects millions of LGBT employees who work for federal contractors and we urge Congress to follow the lead of the Senate and pass ENDA. Rights delayed are rights denied.”

One difference between the executive order and ENDA would be the enforcement mechanism. If ENDA were law, anti-LGBT discrimination would be still be allowed by small businesses, or companies with fewer than 15 employees, as well as by religious organizations in a broader way than other groups because of ENDA’s religious exemption. But if an executive order were in place — and modeled after the existing executive order barring discrimination among other groups — companies exempt under ENDA could face penalties as long as they do $10,000 a year in business with the U.S. government.

According to Freedom to Work, under ENDA, a victim must first file a complaint with the EEOC before an investigation into anti-LGBT workplace discrimination can take place. But under the executive order, the Labor Department could proactively investigate a company for such discrimination — even if no complaint were filed. In fact, the Labor Department regularly conducts audits of federal contractors to determine if they’ve engaged in discrimination under the current directive.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, took Carney to task, saying he’s incorrect and apparently unfamiliar with the Obama administration’s work against employment discrimination.

“When he calls the executive order ‘redundant,’ Mr. Carney is wrong on the law, and surprisingly, he’s even wrong on the facts about the Obama administration’s own successful record enforcing the existing executive order banning racial and sex discrimination at federal contractors,” Almeida said. “In order to have full equality under the law, LGBT Americans need both the statute and the executive order because they have distinct enforcement procedures, and more discrimination can be prevented when both policies work in tandem.”

Almeida added that Carney should consult with “dedicated public servants” at the Labor Department, which, among other victories, under Executive Order 11246 recently won a $2.2 million settlement with federal contractor Cargill in a set of hiring discrimination cases on behalf of nearly 3,000 African-American, Latino and female job applicants — even with a law barring this discrimination in place.

“LGBT Americans deserve these same workplace protections that the Obama Labor Department has been enforcing for other hardworking Americans,” Almeida said. “There’s no good reason to leave only the LGBT community out of the workplace protections that have been applied by the Labor Department to everyone else.”

Also during the briefing, Carney responded to an email from Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias in which he told LGBT donors on an off-the-record listserv the executive order should be signed and its absence is “frustrating and perplexing.”

“I think that there are lot of strongly held views on these matters,” Carney replied. “The president believes very strongly in employment non-discrimination. That’s why he has urged Congress to act on the ENDA legislation. We’ve seen some progress on that. It needs to be completed. Those who oppose it are standing in the way of history and they’ll look foolish in the future as future generations look back at that stance and recognize it for what it is. I just don’t have any updates for you on the EO that you mentioned.”



Suhas Subramanyam wins Democratic primary in Va. 10th Congressional District

Former Obama advisor vows to champion LGBTQ rights in Congress



Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Fairfax County) (Photo courtesy of Subramanyam's campaign)

Virginia state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam (D-Loudoun County) on Tuesday won the Democratic primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) in Congress.

Subramanyam won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District with 30.4 percent of the votes. The Loudoun County Democrat who was an advisor to former President Barack Obama will face Republican Mike Clancy in November’s general election.

“I’m thrilled to be the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s 10th, and to have won this election during Pride Month,” Subramanyam told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an emailed statement. “As I have done in the state legislature and as an Obama White House policy advisor, I will always stand as an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Wexton, who is a vocal LGBTQ rights champion, last September announced she will not seek re-election after doctors diagnosed her with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder she has described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.” Wexton is a vice chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and a previous co-chair of its Transgender Equality Task Force.

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Johnny Randolph Hunt dies at 72

Known for his many years at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



Johnny Randolph Hunt passed away quietly on May 27, 2024, after a well-fought battle against late-stage metastatic prostate cancer that had spread to his bones. He was 72.

Hunt was well known for his many years at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C., and for his artistic talents, where he used recycled junk mail to make whimsical masks and wall hangings known as Peculiars.  

In high school, he was a top-performing cross-country runner, and he frequented Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway for long hikes and camping trips. Hunt was born on Feb. 15, 1952 to parents Janette Simshauser Hunt of Amherst, N.Y., and Melvin Hunt of Covesville, Va., both now deceased. He is survived by his husband of 45 years, Jeffrey David Miller and three sisters, Motanna Cason, Joyce Brown, and Shirley Shiflett, and one brother, Rocky Hunt, and a host of other relatives.  

A celebration of life was held on Saturday, June 15. There will be follow-on services in Kinsale, Va., Charlottesville, Va., and Amherst, N.Y., which will be announced later. His favorite charities were  Wounded Warriors, the Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and Habitat for Humanity. Donations in honor of Johnny should be directed to your charities of choice.

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65% of Black Americans support Black LGBTQ rights: survey

Results show 40% have LGBTQ family member



(Logo courtesy of the NBJC)

The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced on June 19 that it commissioned what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind national survey of Black people in the United States in which 65 percent said they consider themselves “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” with 57 percent of the supporters saying they were “churchgoers.”

In a press release describing the findings of the survey, NBJC said it commissioned the research firm HIT Strategies to conduct the survey with support from five other national LGBTQ organizations – the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality, and GLSEN.

“One of the first surveys of its kind, explicitly sampling Black people (1,300 participants) on Black LGBTQ+ people and issues – including an oversampling of Black LGBTQ+ participants to provide a more representative view of this subgroup – it investigates the sentiments, stories, perceptions, and priorities around Black values and progressive policies, to better understand how they impact Black views on Black LGBTQ+ people,” the press release says.

It says the survey found, among other things, that 73 percent of Gen Z respondents, who in 2024 are between the ages of 12 and 27, “agree that the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people.”

According to the press release, it also found that 40 percent of Black people in the survey reported having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+ and 80 percent reported having “some proximity to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, but only 42 percent have some proximity to transgender or gender-expansive people.”

The survey includes these additional findings:

• 86% of Black people nationally report having a feeling of shared fate and connectivity with other Black people in the U.S., but this view doesn’t fully extend to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Around half — 51% — of Black people surveyed feel a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.

• 34% reported the belief that Black LGBTQ+ people “lead with their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Those participants were “significantly less likely to support the Black LGBTQ+ community and most likely to report not feeling a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.”

• 92% of Black people in the survey reported “concern about youth suicide after being shown statistics about the heightened rate among Black LGBTQ+ youth.” Those expressing this concern included 83% of self-reported opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

• “Black people’s support for LGBTQ+ rights can be sorted into three major groups: 29% Active Accomplices, 25% Passive Allies (high potential to be moved), 35% Opponents. Among Opponents, ‘competing priorities’ and ‘religious beliefs’ are the two most significant barriers to supporting Black LGBTQ+ people and issues.”

• 10% of the survey participants identified as LGBTQ. Among those who identified as LGBTQ, 38% identified as bisexual, 33% identified as lesbian or gay, 28% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, and 6% identified as transgender.

• Also, among those who identified as LGBTQ, 89% think the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people, 69% think Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedoms than other Black people, 35% think non-Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedom than other Black people, 54% “feel their vote has a lot of power,” 51% live in urban areas, and 75% rarely or never attend church.

Additional information about the survey from NBJC can be accessed here.

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