Faced with a call to take action on behalf of LGBT-owned businesses, the White House has affirmed President Obama “doesn’t believe anyone should discriminate against business owners because they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender” and left the door open for a new policy before the end of the administration.
Under questioning from the Washington Blade on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest cited Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors as the basis for his beliefs.
“I don’t have any executive orders or executive actions to preview for you, but obviously the president has taken executive action to ensure that companies that have contracts with the U.S. government are not discriminating against their employees because they’re gay and the president doesn’t believe anyone should discriminate against business owners because they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” Earnest said. “That’s a principle that the president has long prioritized, but I can’t tell you at this point whether that’s something that will be the subject of an executive order.”
LGBT organizations led by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce are pushing for Obama in his remaining days in office to take action on behalf of LGBT-owned businesses. The request seeks an executive order or presidential memorandum that would bar discrimination in federal contracting against business owners based on their LGBT status and to set goals affirmatively to include LGBT-owned businesses in federal procurement.
Asked whether sufficient time remains for Obama to issue executive action, or if it would have to wait until the next administration, Earnest wouldn’t foreclose on the possibility of new policy before Obama leaves the White House.
“It’s not something I’d rule out at this point, but I don’t know whether or not something like that is in the works,” Earnest said.
Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president for the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said Earnest’s remarks demonstrate Obama “agrees” no LGBT business owner should experience discrimination in seeking U.S. government contracts.
“There’s still time for this administration to level the playing field for LGBT business enterprises and ensure the equal seat at the table they deserve,” Lovitz said. “We’re proud to continue working closely with our friends at the White House; and we know they are doing everything they can to make this happen for the good of our economy and our community.”