White House Seems To Think Executive Order on Workplace Discrimination Is Unnecessary

sad_obamaThe Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) continues to languish in Congress because of opposition in the Republican-controlled House. But the White House doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about writing an executive order to offer at least some protections to LGBT workers. In comments that drew wide criticism from LGBT activists, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that ENDA would make the need for an executive order “redundant.”

Two problems with that comment: it wouldn’t, and ENDA isn’t passing any time soon.

“Even if ENDA were to pass tomorrow, we’d still need the president to sign the executive order in order to ensure that those same protections exist for LGBT workers,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. The executive order would provide protection to workers of federal contractors who would not otherwise be covered.

More to the point, the executive order would send a signal to the nation about the importance of workplace protections. It would also fulfill President Obama’s promise of doing an end run around a recalcitrant Congress when possible. 

Meantime, there is some hope from a new federal court ruling. U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is allowing a gay man who says he experienced workplace discrimination to pursue his claim under the nation’s major civil rights protection law.


Peter TerVeer claims that his boss at the Library of Congress created “a hostile environment in which he imposed his religion and sexual stereotypes” on TerVeer. TerVeer complained, only to receive negative performance reviews as part of what his lawsuit calls “a campaign of retaliation.”

Under normal circumstances, TerVeer wouldn’t have much recourse. However, his attorneys argue that his claims are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Because much of the legal reasoning in support of marriage equality relies upon the argument that same-sex couples are being discriminated against because of their gender, firing someone for not conforming to traditional gender roles would be sex discrimination as well.

Winning a workplace discrimination cases under Title VII would be a good legal victory. But wouldn’t be nice to have a political one from the White House? Just don’t hold your breath waiting for it.


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  • Mezaien

    In Arizona, I AdamHomo reserve the right to refused job for republican Christian white.

  • ack747

    So Brendan Eich privately opposes gay marriage, but offers non-discrimination policies and same-sex benefits to his workers at Mozilla; gets fired and the gaystapo celebrates.

    Obama publicly opposes gay marriage for years, until his shaky reelection rolls around, and refuses to provide a non-discrimination policy for his employees; gets the adoring support of the gays.

    It’s almost like a double standard or something!

  • ChiChi Man

    @ack747: Yawn. The President has done more for diversity and LGBT people than any President before him, far more than this non-inclusive website and infinitely more than any anonymous poster.

    The insane speed of the marriage equality movement can be attributed directly to the President. HIS support has been crucial and HIS judges have made key rulings in our favor. HIS administration’s recognition of same sex marriages in battleground states.

    Is the President as bold as I’d like him to be? Of course not. But the constant carping on this (white, middle-age) site is almost as pathetic as it is irrelevant. You people forget – the President is not a king or a dictator. Maybe you’d rather live in Russia.

  • Black Pegasus

    @ChiChi Man: Thank you!

    The constant whining about President Obama’s commitment to gay rights is as laughable as it is insulting! Least we not forget Bill Clinton was the first American President in modern history to sign a LAW that denied rights and equal protections for one group of Americans while granting them to another- ( DOMA anyone?). And with George W. Bush, we were ignored for 8 yrs… This website is starting to look like its old self. During the 2010 midterm elections, Queerty published a anti Obama article every 1-2 days until the republicans won huge in congress…

    I’m starting to wonder…..

  • damon459

    The only problem I see with an executive order is the next president could just as easily over-turn it with the stroke of a pen. Remember when Obama took office and he over-turned a few of GW’s executive orders? Yea see they aren’t permanent, we need a more lasting answer to this issue. We’ve come a long way in our fight for freedom, I want to keep fighting for long term solutions not short term “fixes”. Heck if you has asked me when I was 18 if I would see same sex marriage in my lifetime I would have said no fucking way, yet here we are state by state seeing just that happen. Has Obama done everything he promised? Nope he sure hasn’t, but can anyone name a single president who has? I sure don’t know of any elected official who has done that, let alone a president, but I do think Obama has done a lot considering what he’s had to work with.

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