You know things have come to a pitiful state when Congress is calling on the President to do something, instead of the other way around. In a letter to President Obama, almost every Democrat in the Senate and two-thirds of the Democrats in the House urge him to issue an executive order banning workplace LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.
The Democrats cite their inability to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in the House as the reason that Obama should act. “We are committed to doing all we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year,” they write. “[H]owever, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step.”
In fact, as long as the Republicans control the House, ENDA has about as much chance of passing as a resolution celebrating the success of Obamacare.
The mystery is why it’s taking Obama so long to issue an executive order. This is an perfect example of something well within the purview of the presidency, and something that Obama himself promised to do in order to circumvent Congressional gridlock. The executive order wouldn’t be as sweeping as ENDA would be, since it would apply only to federal contractors, but it would send a clear signal that the U.S. government does not tolerate workplace discrimination.
It’s not as if issuing the order would prove a shock to the public; unless you live under a rock, you know where Obama stands on LGBT issues by now. In fact, this is a no-brainer from a political point of view; a majority of voters in every Congressional district think discrimination against LGBT workers should be banned.
“Issuing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT workers in federal contracts would build on the significant progress for LGBT rights made during your time as President and would further your legacy as a champion for LGBT equality,” the members of Congress wrote. Unfortunately, the legacy will also include the lack of urgency that characterizes the Administration response.