October 12, 2016 at 5:55 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
White House unsure if Obama thinks Title VII bars anti-gay bias
Josh Earnest, gay news, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

One day after the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to reconsider whether workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is barred under current federal civil rights law, the White House remains unsure if President Obama subscribes to that view.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade on Obama’s position, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday he’s unaware of the Seventh Circuit decision to review “en banc” its earlier determination the prohibition on gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 excludes gay people.

“I have to admit I’ve not been briefed on that specific ruling, so let me take a look and we’ll get back to you,” Earnest said.

It’s not the first time Earnest didn’t have an answer to the question. Earlier this month, Earnest said he was unaware of Obama’s views the day after the U.S. Justice Department missed the deadline to file a brief in a separate lawsuit before the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals alleging anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.

Asked why Obama wouldn’t naturally believe anti-gay discrimination is prohibited under current law given his LGBT rights support, Earnest again deferred.

“I don’t know how the law works with regard to this particular legal question, so let me see if we have someone who’s more keenly aware of the legal issues here to get back to you,” Earnest said.

Oral arguments in the “en banc” review are set for Nov. 30. Earnest said he’d “look into” whether the administration would be able to have an answer by that time.

LGBT advocates have been calling on the Obama administration to affirm the prohibition on gender discrimination in current civil rights law bars sexual orientation discrimination, a principle the U.S. Justice Department has already articulated for anti-transgender discrimination. The request may go unfulfilled with only 100 days remaining in the Obama administration as of Wednesday.

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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