Since Congress is about as effective as a toddler after last call — we have no idea how that baby even got into the bar — President Obama is reportedly weighing an executive order to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Obama has also come under pressure from LGBT rights groups who — buoyed by the Pentagon’s recent extension of benefits to same-sex couples and their families — want swift action on the long-delayed ENDA bill.
The White House is also reviewing whether the president should issue an executive order offering protections to gays and lesbians who work for government contractors. Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign last year, disappointing many gay-rights activists.
But two people familiar with White House thinking said the president may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace.
“The President should use the State of the Union to call on both chambers of Congress to take this long overdue vote,” Freedom to Work Executive Director Tico Almeida told BuzzFeed. “The White House’s legislative team should start encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make floor time for ENDA this year.”
Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz thinks an executive order is the next logical step if ENDA is to be passed anytime this century.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the numbers to pass ENDA in this House. That’s a statement of fact. While we wish that we had an equality majority, that can’t stop us from protecting the greatest number of LGBT workers in the meantime,” Sainz said. “It’s a natural extension of the president’s leadership for him to sign the executive order.”
While White House press secretary Jay Carney claimed to be “pressing for action from Congress” when asked about a possible executive order, Almeida said that the Obama administration needs to step its game up and “get proactive about calling for congressional votes on ENDA this year.”