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Carney: ENDA would make executive order ‘redundant’

LGBT advocates pounce on notion that directive unnecessary if law enacted

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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.”

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Rebecca Juro

    April 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Utter bullshit. If the President really believed in workplace non-discrimination he'd have signed the EO already. What Obama and the Dems really believe in is using ENDA as a carrot on a stick to drive voters to the polls in November, not actually passing the bill into law. Carney is a liar, and now, everyone knows it.

  2. Stephen Clark

    April 4, 2014 at 12:35 am

    If a law makes the EO redundant, why hasn't the President rescinded the EOs on race, sex, religion, age, and disability, which are all also protected by laws? Because the EO is not redundant, as they damn well know. This baldface lying has reached a level beyond ridiculous.

    If there are strong views on both sides, I'd like a disclosure of the identity of the bigot who is strongly opposing the EO and is being coddled and placated by the administration.

  3. brian

    April 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    “If a law makes the EO redundant, why hasn’t the President rescinded the EOs on race, sex, religion, age, and disability, which are all also protected by laws?” -Stephen
    ======================================================
    Yet more WH hypocrisy. The President has no concern for all the LGBT federal contracts job seekers who will never get a chance to compete fairly. They won’t have a chance to be made “redundant” with so much as a first job. That’s apparently thank’s to a lame duck’s political worries.

  4. Hominy Bear

    April 4, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Hillary? LOL! Nah she won’t issue on EO neither! LMBO!

  5. Will Kohl

    April 4, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Carney should tell that to President Johnson and Roosevelt that signed the EO's so that black ppl couldn't be discriminated in the armed forces or by companies that had federal contracts BEFORE the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This is such a crock of shit and such a a slap in the face to the LGBT Community by Obama.

  6. Phyllis Nowacki

    April 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Let congress do their work and remember those who did not vote for ENDA if defeated that force an executive order

  7. Kelly Glanney

    April 12, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I dont really understand how can Obama pass EDNA into law when the Dems don't have the numbers in Congress, Rebecca?

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Local

FreeState Justice outlines 2022 legislative priorities

Bills introduced to repeal ‘unnatural or perverted sexual practice’ law

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conversion therapy, gay news, Washington Blade

FreeState Justice has outlined its legislative priorities for the Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session that began on Jan. 12.

State Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Harford Counties) has introduced Senate Bill 22, which would repeal a provision of Maryland law that bans “unnatural or perverted sexual practice.” State Dels. David Moon (D-Montgomery County), Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery County) and Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery County) have introduced an identical bill in the House of Delegates.

A bill that repealed Maryland’s sodomy law took effect in 2020 without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, but the “unnatural or perverted sexual practice” provision that criminalizes oral sex and bestiality remains in place.

FreeState Justice Policy Director C.P. Hoffman on Jan. 12 noted during a virtual briefing that prosecutors rarely bring charges under the law. Hoffman nevertheless pointed out four men who were arrested at a video store in Harford County in May 2021 were indicted under it.

“Its really just offensive that this is being used against queer people in 2021,” said Hoffman. “So we want to see it repealed.”

Hoffman and their FreeState Justice colleagues also noted the ability for transgender Marylanders to more easily obtain official documents that correspond with their gender identity is another legislative priority.

Maryland since 2019 has allowed trans and non-binary people to receive a driver’s license with an “X” gender marker.

Hoffman said FreeState Justice will support bills that would allow Marylanders to change their name on their marriage certificate without a court order or getting divorced and remarry. FreeState Justice will also back a measure that would allow trans parents to amend their child’s birth certificate to accurately reflect their gender identity.

“We’re trying to clean that up to make one consistent policy that allows for trans folks to do this,” said Hoffman.

FreeState Justice Executive Director Jeremy LaMaster during the briefing noted another legislative priority is the Inclusive Schools Act, which would require Maryland public schools to implement a uniform non-discrimination policy through the state’s Department of Education. FreeState Justice Policy Coordinator Jamie Grace Alexander highlighted the organization will also urge lawmakers to expand access to PrEP and PEP in Maryland and to support legislation that would, among other things, prohibit housing incarcerated trans women with men.

“The conditions for transgender people — especially transgender women — while they’re incarcerated are extremely grim and dark,” said Alexander.

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Virginia

Mother says teen boy charged with assault in girl’s bathroom at Va. school is straight

Earlier reports that Loudoun County student was gender fluid triggered backlash

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Two sexual assaults by the same teen in Loudoun County schools attracted widespread media attention. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a little-noticed interview last November with the British online newspaper, DailyMail.com, the mother of a 15-year-old boy charged with sexually assaulting a girl last May in the girl’s bathroom at a Loudoun County, Va., high school that the two students attended said her son identifies as heterosexual.

The May 28, 2021, sexual assault first surfaced in the news media in October at the same time law enforcement authorities disclosed that the boy allegedly sexually assaulted a girl on Oct. 6 in a vacant classroom at another high school to which he was transferred.

The disclosure of the two assaults triggered a furious backlash by some parents and conservative political activists against a Virginia school policy allowing transgender and gender fluid students to use the bathroom that conforms to their gender identity.

“First of all, he is not transgender,” the boy’s mother told DailyMail.com in a Nov. 2 interview. “And I think this is all doing an extreme disservice to those students who actually identify as transgender,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

The mother, who agreed to the interview on grounds that she was not identified to protect the identity of her son, said her son identifies as heterosexual and absolutely does not identify as female.

LGBTQ activists have said the backlash against both the Virginia state and Loudoun County transgender non-discrimination policies — which spread to school districts across the country that have similar policies — was fueled by what they have said all along was unsubstantiated claims that the boy was transgender or gender fluid.

Conservative activists who strongly oppose the school systems’ trans supportive bathroom policies have said it was those policies that enabled the 15-year-old boy, who police say was wearing a skirt at the time of the May 28 sexual assault incident, to enter the girl’s bathroom to target the girl.

Since that time, testimony in a Loudoun County Juvenile Court where the boy was being prosecuted revealed that the 14-year-old girl who brought the charges against him said she and the boy had two consenting sexual encounters in a girl’s bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., prior to the incident in which the boy allegedly assaulted her. 

According to the Washington Post, whose reporter attended one of the juvenile court hearings, the girl testified that she agreed to meet the boy in the girl’s bathroom after he requested a third sexual encounter there, but she told him she did not want to have sex at that time.

“The girl previously testified in court that the defendant threw her to the ground in the bathroom and forced her to perform two sexual acts on him after she told him that she was not interested in sex on that occasion,” the Post reported in a story last week about the final outcome of the case.

At a Jan. 12 sentencing hearing, Loudoun County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Pamela Brooks placed the boy on the Virginia sex offender registry for life, the Post reported. After ruling in an earlier hearing in November that the evidence confirmed that the boy was responsible for sexually assaulting the two girls, Brooks sentenced the boy to a residential treatment facility rather than a juvenile detention facility and required that he remain on probation until he turns 18, the Post reported.

“He’s a 15-year-old boy that wanted to have sex in the bathroom, with somebody that was willing,” the boy’s mother told DailyMaiI.com. “And they’re twisting this just enough to make it a political hot button issue,” she said.

In her interview with the newspaper, the mother said her son wasn’t gender fluid despite the reports, which she confirms, that he wore a skirt at the time of the first of the two sexual assaults.

“He would wear a skirt one day and then the next day, he would wear jeans and a T-shirt, a Polo or hoodie,” she told the newspaper. “He was trying to find himself and that involved all kinds of styles. I believe he was doing it because it gave him attention he desperately needed and sought,” she said.

The mother acknowledged in the interview that her son was deeply troubled, saying he had a long history of misbehavior, including sending nude photos of himself to a girl when he was in the fifth grade.

On Jan. 12, the same day as the boy’s sentencing hearing, Virginia House of Delegates member John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced a bill calling for restricting the ability of transgender students from using bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

A separate bill introduced last month by Virginia State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) calls for eliminating the requirement that Virginia school districts adopt the state Department of Education’s nondiscrimination policies for trans and non-binary students.

Although Virginia’s newly inaugurated Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the GOP-controlled House of Delegates could move to advance the two bills, LGBTQ activists note that the state Senate remains in Democratic control and would block the two bills from being approved by the General Assembly.

Cris Candice Tuck, president of the LGBTQ group Equality Loudoun, told the Blade she expects opponents of LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies in the Loudoun County Public Schools and other school systems in Virginia to continue to use the sexual assault case of the Loudoun boy as a pretext to repeal LGBTQ and trans supportive policies. 

“We firmly believe it should have absolutely no bearing as the perpetrator was not transgender, non-binary, or gender fluid, and so that doesn’t apply to this policy at all,” Tuck said. “A single conviction of an individual who is not even part of the group in question is no reason to invalidate the rights and expose to potential violence the hundreds of students who identify as transgender or non-binary,” Tuck said in an email message.

“Currently, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and hundreds of cisgender teachers, clergy, and coaches are embroiled in legal battles nationwide involving sexual molestation, rape, and abuse of children across the country that has been ongoing for decades,” Tuck said. “Yet no one is proposing restroom restrictions for any of those groups. A double standard cannot exist for the LGBTQ+ based on fear mongering, misinformation, and discrimination.”

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Anti-LGBTQ group claims Va. marriage amendment repeal will legalize polygamy

State Sen. Adam Ebbin rejected claim during committee hearing

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census, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

A representative of an anti-LGBTQ group on Tuesday said the repeal of Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would pave the way for the legalization of polygamy in the state.

“There are some, at least, very legitimate concerns about whether this would actually legalize polygamy, among other forms of marriage,” said Family Foundation of Virginia Legal Counsel Josh Hetzler.

Hetzler made the comment during a Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing on state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Ebbin, who is the only openly gay member of the Virginia Senate, in response to the claim noted polygamy is a crime under Virginia and federal law.

“I take offense to the Family Foundation’s characterization that this would allow polygamy,” said Ebbin. “This has nothing to do with polygamy, what this has to do with is equality.”

Carol Schall, who, along with her wife, Mary Townley, joined a federal lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Virginia, and outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck are among those who testified in support of the resolution. The committee approved it by a 10-5 vote margin.

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly last year approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Ebbin earlier this month told the Washington Blade he remains “hopeful” the resolution will pass in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Prospects that the resolution will pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates are far less certain.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin before his election reiterated his opposition to marriage equality. Youngkin, however, stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

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