Obama Won’t Sign Ban on Gay Discrimination, Upsets LGBT Activists

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Friday April 13, 2012

White House officials announced that President Obama would not sign a measure that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against gays and transgender people, the Washington Post reported. Obama's decision has greatly upset the gay community and LGBT activists around the country.

Instead of creating an executive order that would not allow federal contractors to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the White House said it would "lead a multi-pronged effort to urge companies, federal agencies and other to oppose discrimination," the article notes.

"While it is not our usual practice to discuss executive orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an executive order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time. We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with congressional sponsors to build support for it," a senior administration official said.

"We are deeply committed to working hand-in-hand with the LGBT community to enlist support from key stakeholders and other decision-makers, and to continue to engage with and educate the business community and the public more broadly about the importance of employment nondiscrimination and the importance of passing ENDA," the official added.

The order was an important issue for many activists and organizations and in the past few months, gay rights supporters gave the White House ample data that showed it was common for members of the LGBT community to be discriminated against in the workplace.

The New York Times points out that Obama has angered a gay constituency that has been a major source of money for the president's campaign and Politico reports that the president is under pressure from some gay activists to support marriage equality.

A number of gay rights activists issued statements condemning the president on his decision.

"There is a well-established record documenting employment discrimination against LGBT Americans based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Ian Thompson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative. "The ACLU continues to view this executive order as the single most important step President Obama could take this year to eradicate LGBT discrimination from our country's workplaces. It is extremely disappointing that the administration has apparently decided to delay doing so."

The conservative gay rights organization, LOG Cabin Republicans, also made a statement.

"In refusing to sign this executive order, President Barack Obama has turned his back on 1.8 million LGBT workers who need these protections for their livelihood," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "This President has been all about making promises and spouting empty words, but here he has failed to deliver on a policy that has broad, bipartisan support among the American people."

The Human Rights Campaign's president, Joe Solmonese, who attended the White House meeting, said he was disappointed with the president.

"We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender."