How Long Will It Take For Obama To Finally Do Something About Workplace Discrimination?

gay-for-obamaOver the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder had a big announcement on LGBT rights. Here’s what it amounted to:

If you are indicted, your spouse will not be required to testify against you. If you declare bankruptcy, you and your spouse will be treated just like any other married couple.

These policy decisions (and others like them) are just the latest ripple in the ongoing expansion of marriage equality benefits. They are important in their own way, but they are limited. So here’s a question for the Obama administration.

Why are you mucking around in these weeds when you still haven’t issued an executive order preventing job discrimination in the federal workplace?

This is one of the stranger conundrums of politics today. Marriage equality is racing ahead at a gallop, but nondiscrimination protection at the federal level languishes. Even as the Obama administration is pushing hard to make sure that the law applies equally to all married couples, it still hasn’t taken the far more basic step of making sure people aren’t canned from their jobs for being gay or lesbian.

In making the announcement about marriage laws at a fundraising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, Attorney General Eric Holder explicitly linked the advancement of LGBT rights with the struggle for racial equality.

“Just as was true during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation’s struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher,” Holder said. “Then, as now, nothing less than our country’s founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law was at stake.”

Which makes the absence of action on the job front all the more glaring. The federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate but Speaker John Boehner will never allow it to come to a vote in the House. At the time of the Senate passage, Obama issued a statement saying, “Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it.”

Now might also be the time for the president to carry through with this threat from the State of the Union address to achieve by executive order what a recalcitrant House will not allow. He just did by raising the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. Why not issue an executive order banning discrimination by those same contractors?

There are plenty of reasons why workplace protections are now the last unlikely hill to wage a battle on. None of those reasons is particularly good. Given how far the country has moved on marriage equality, banning job discrimination seems like a much less contentious task. Maybe the administration doesn’t consider it enough of a priority. Maybe it prefers to focus on marriage equality as having creating broader societal change.

But in the meantime, it’s perfectly okay for federal contractors (outside of states without protections) to fire LGBT workers. Why this would be acceptable to the Obama administration is a mystery. Yet it is. Perhaps the president needs to evolve more than we thought. In the meantime, the clock is ticking.

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  • redspyder

    The Emperor is busy.

  • Mezaien

    Obama`s job is way harder then all the other presidents. Put up with the mentally ill white Christian republican; All I can say to him “Icona Matata” my president.

  • tdx3fan

    Perhaps it is because the problem does not really exist. In all honesty, we hear very little about people being fired because they are gay because there are PLENTY of companies that are very inclusive towards gay people. Add that to the fact that gay people are often more educated, harder working and more dedicated than their straight male equivalents and you come up with the fact that the problem is just not that large. Most of the time when a gay person is fired for being gay it is because they worked a job that they knew was homophobic. Even the ENDA as proposed in Congress will not protect those people. There is no reason Obama should spend the time issuing a 3 year order for a problem that might effect less than 1% of less than 10% of the population. He has much better and much, much more important things that he already fails to do than to bother with this nonsense.

  • sportyguy1983

    Because last time checked he isn’t a dictator and there is such a thing as separation of power. He doesn’t pass the laws. He as president just enforces the law.

  • dougmc92

    I’ve been talking about ENDA for 5 years- and every time I brought it up on gay sites, I’d get howled down- ‘The President has done more for us than any President…’ ‘He has sooo much on his plate…’ Like every President doesn’t have a lot on thier plate….and yes discrimination does still exist- I had a guy tell me point blank- ‘i don’t hire fags’ when I appled for a job once in VA..(I have a slight lisp- most people thnk I am right off the bat)

  • Caleb in SC

    That is a BS headline. NOTHING on ENDA will be passed so long as the GOP controls the US House. Educate yourselves before you post inane crap.

  • jonjct

    @Mezaien: i have flagged you for christian bashing. no different from hating muslims, women, blacks, or others. no different from haters who bash you for being gay. it’s the same hate. so, get your house in order and work on that little hate thing you got going on. there is already too much hatred in the world. wise up, or at least, shut up.

  • Caleb in SC

    @jonjct: Get over it. Christians have been persecuting gay people for ages. Are you really jimbryant??? Stop trolling gay news sites if you are so offended.

  • balehead

    This article reeks of racism….do you think a white republican president would have done it any faster???

  • Respect4all

    When will “gay rights organizations” like HRC do something about workplace discrimination? They, like @tdx3fan: believe that all gay people are well-educated, upper-income, professional white men living in big liberal cities. It’s true, those gay people don’t need ENDA, but poor and working-class LGBT people (yes, they do exist), and non-white LGBT people, especially those living in the 30 states w/o gay rights laws are very much at risk of workplace discrimination. But, who cares about them anyway?

  • Black Pegasus

    First of all QUEERTY, it’s “PRESIDENT OBAMA” not obama. Of the four times his name appears within the title and body of this article you not once showed any respect by addressing this man as PRESIDENT OBAMA. If you’re going to make demands about what this President should be doing for you, try to so some damn respect!

    Now as for the issue at hand; you’re right! Gay people do need equal protection under the Law. But it seems most of you have conveniently forgotten the GOP’s stalk opposition to such protections. Speaker John Boehner said such new laws would complicate the legal system and encourage fraudulent lawsuits. He said he would block any proposed legislation. If you want a target to direct your ire, I would suggest looking there. President Obama has done more for us than any of you could’ve ever imagine. If you wanna be mad, be mad as hell at the right group of people

  • redspyder

    @Black Pegasus: Yes, yes, as I said earlier… Emperor Obama is very busy. He’ll get around to it when he’s done bypassing the Constitution on many other issues, which he will tell us about if he deems it necessary or another ‘Edward Snowden’ comes about.

    So sayeth the Press Secretary, so sayeth the Lord.

  • Black Pegasus

    @redspyder: “Emperor Obama?” Based on your affectionate names for the President I can only conclude that you’re a tea party clown. All of which means you’ll be summarily ignored whenever your prepackaged bullshit appears on this website.

    Bathe in the attention I just gave you…
    You won’t be getting it again.

  • redspyder

    @Black Pegasus: yes, yes, yes… we’ve seen it all before. Anytime anyone says anything vaguely critical of the Emperor they must be a.) a [email protected] or b.) a “tea party clown”.

    Much more effective than actually addressing the truth of what has been said.

    Go liberals. Never let the truth get in the way.

    And for the record – after ANY attention from you, I always bathe. All that righteous anger just leaves people covered in spittle.

  • tdx3fan

    @dougmc92: So you would rather have that person be forced to hire you? Then you could work for someone like that and you could start wondering why you are being treated differently than everyone else. You cannot force anyone to accept someone no matter what laws you pass. If ENDA type systems really worked then please explain why the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 and black males are still the least likely to be hired of all minority groups.

  • tdx3fan

    @Caleb in SC: People have been using Christianity as one of a great variety of excuses for ostracizing gays for centuries. There is a difference.

  • tdx3fan

    @Respect4all: I grew up poor in a very small town that had absolutely no gay visibility. I had a friend told by his boss that she would never hire gay people while he was one of her best grill cooks at a small franchise. Thanks for writing my back story though. Now, please work on proving my point wrong because I have been all over this country and they all have the same large chains that have non-discrimination policies and those are the ones hiring your low income minorities in general.

  • tdx3fan

    @redspyder: Please share your truth point by point. All you are spouting is talking points with absolutely no concrete examples behind them. For the record, Bush started surveillance programs, Obama most likely did not know how in depth they were. The whole thing with Snowden caught Obama with his pants down more because he was ignorant about what was going on than that he actually ordered it. Give credit where credit is due!

  • tjr101

    @redspyder: “Emperor Obama” Oh how original, do you want a cookie for that?

  • DShucking

    @jonjct: What about white bashing?

  • balehead

    White bashing?…..They’re too busy doing Zombie walks….

  • Respect4all

    @tdx3fan: I don’t understand. Your friend was told by his boss that she would never hire gay people and that’s your proof that anti-gay discrimination doesn’t exist?

  • redspyder

    @tjr101: “Imperial President” has already been used by pretty much everybody. And yes please – I’ll take chocolate chip.

  • Spike

    Queerty, anyone on your staff understand the difference a democratically elected President and a Dictator? Anyone?

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