Nothing ever really happens all of a sudden, but it seems like there is a groundswell of support for getting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — and/or an executive order from the President — done. From the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to conversations with the White House and even last week’s controversial interruption of First Lady Michelle Obama at a fundraising event, ENDA is making headlines.
Andrew Tobias, the DNC’s Treasurer, has announced there is a “process” underway that would lead to President Barack Obama signing an executive order amounting to an ENDA for all federal employees and contractors. That conceivably could cover about 20 percent of the nation’s workforce. And Senator Harry Reid, who last month said he would like to hold a vote on ENDA after the July 4 holiday recess. Additionally, minutes ago, Reid sent a tweet confirming his intentions to vote on ENDA “soon.”
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) June 10, 2013
Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports Tobias “is telling LGBT donors that ‘a process’ is underway that would lead to President Obama signing an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors.”
In an email dated May 30 from an off-the-record listserv leaked to the Washington Blade, Andy Tobias, who’s gay, said in response to questions about the directive that he’s spoken to officials within the administration and “everyone’s for it,” but the hold up is related to “process.”
“I have spoken to people in an attempt to understand better myself what the delay is — and to lobby for its getting done,” Tobias wrote. “Those people have left me satisfied that our frustration is heard, that the hold-up is not staffers who oppose our rights but a process that is broader than just this one very important and long delayed agenda item. To which I basically respond: can I share more of the specifics? (‘Please don’t’) and can you please get a move on?! (‘we hear you brother; keep the faith’).”
Johnson, the Blade’s Chief Political & White House reporter, published an in-depth article that adds:
Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, reiterated that an executive order is a “hypothetical” matter for the administration.
“As we’ve said before, the White House has no updates regarding a hypothetical Executive Order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors,” Inouye said.
Still, this assertion of a process is consistent with indications from the White House that some kind of study is underway — or possibly completed — on LGBT discrimination protections.
In April, Inouye alluded to an examination in a previously unpublished response to the Blade over a little-noticed year-old quote from the Center for American Progress’ Winnie Stachelberg about a study on the issue from the Council of Economic Advisers. Inouye said, “We continue to study the issue.”
Johnson also notes:
Tico Almeida, president of Freedom of Work, said he’s hopeful that the administration is in the middle of a process that will lead to Obama signing the order sometime in June in accordance with Pride, but would “bet on a signature at some point later this year.”
“I have never lost faith that President Obama is a man of his word who will fulfill his written campaign promise and sign the executive order,” Almeida said. “He will build on his unmatched record as the best president ever for advancing LGBT equality. I’m keeping faith in President Obama.”
But at the end of the day, even if Senator Reid, who revealed last month his niece is a lesbian, were able to pass the legislation that has been in Congress in some manner since 1974, for the most part, the chances of the House passing the bill are extremely low.
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