Obama’s ENDA Executive Order Is No Silver Bullet for LGBTQ Discrimination
Before we all go crazy and slap another round of Obama stickers on our cars, lets talk about what Obama’s not-yet-signed ENDA Executive order really does.
Alright, lets not be too bitter – getting a standing US President to use his executive power to make moves towards LGBTQ protections in the work place is amazing, and we should all be pretty grateful our issues are this high up on Obama’s list.
After the President signs this EO, federal agencies and contractors will no longer be able to fire or discriminate in hiring against LGBTQ employees. This will protect about 14 million workers who are not currently protected by state law according to a study by Williams Institute at UCLA Law School.
This number consists of the total number of federal employees, not specifying which are LGBTQ, and here’s our first hurdle to overcome. ENDA will protect those in government or affiliated work who often already work for contractors who provide protections for sexual minority employees.
What ENDA will not do, is protect private sector employees from discrimination.
For example, Johnny Doe, flipping burgers because he got kicked out of his house for being a gay-teen, can still be fired from his job because of who he loves.
And if Suzie Que applies for a job and the person interviewing her perceives her to be a lesbian, Ms. Que can be denied the position.
And then there’s the issue with executive orders – they are only as good as the elected official in office.
We here in Virginia are all too familiar with this concept. While Governor, Tim Kaine provided protections through executive order for state employees, and they were immediately stripped away when McDonnell took power… through an executive order.
See the pattern here? ENDA sounds great and pads Obama’s resume for the LGBTQ base, and (as a gay person, I’m really getting tired of saying this) we are grateful for the work being done, but ENDA is a bandaid over a gaping wound.
So when Obama signs ENDA, and the folks at Human Rights Campaign send out a big email blast thanking the Commander and Chief for his support, (and asking for donations) realize it’s long term impact could conceivably end in 2017.
Obama admits he’s taking these steps because of Congress’s failure to act on the issue, and we all know the DC gridlock isn’t going to push much of anything forward, let along bills which are LGBTQ-friendly.
“We’ve been waiting for quite a few months now for the House to take action and unfortunately there are no particularly strong indications that Congress is prepared to act on this,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told AP.
It was also AP who might have pointed out why this all happened in the first place.
Obama’s decision could energize progressive voters in a midterm election year where Republicans are seeking to retake control of the Senate. The DNC and several Democratic lawmakers highlighted the president’s announcement Monday and used it to try to draw a distinction with Republicans.
I really wish LGBTQ civil rights weren’t a weapon for anyone, but here we are, hilts for legs, being shaken at the Right in an aggressive posture.
Someday I have no doubt we’ll all be secure in our jobs despite who we go to bed with, but until then, we’ll have to settle for piecemeal rights hobbled together by a stagnant political system… or move to another state.
When Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell replaced Democrat Tim Kaine, he undid his successor’s order protecting sexual minorities.November 22, 2016
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