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discrimination alive in federal contracting

topic posted Thu, May 3, 2012 - 11:47 AM by  Gerbil
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www.slate.com/blogs/xx_fa...efused_.html
In a high-profile meeting yesterday afternoon, top aides of President Obama* informed a group of lobbyists and advocates that his administration would not issue an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT people who work for federal contractors. Obama had campaigned in support of such an order back in 2008, but, according to meeting attendee and Center for American Progress executive vice president Winnie Stachelberg, the White House now espouses a “multipronged effort to better address workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans.”

Whatever that means.

To be fair, the administration also affirmed its support for the more comprehensive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), a bill that would prohibit hiring and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity. But ENDA has been bouncing around Congress since 1994, and given the current toxicity of the congressional environment, its sudden passage does not seem likely. Which is why most people pushing for the executive order, including some of the president's own party colleagues, saw it as a natural step along the way—and a rather large one at that, given that around 16 million workers would be covered according to some estimates—to something better.

Unsurpisingly, LGBT advocates were less-than-thrilled with the news.

Charles Kaiser, a journalist and author of The Gay Metropolis, a history of gay life in the United States since 1940, was unsettled by the announcement. He recalled in an email that it was President Dwight Eisenhower who signed an executive order banning all federal agencies and all of their contractors from hiring gay people over a half-century ago.

“In 2012 it's outrageous that the current president is reluctant to sign an executive order that would do the opposite,” Kaiser added. “After getting Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed, and refusing to defend DOMA in court, Obama has by far the best record on gay rights of any president. His decision to blemish that record this way is baffling and disturbing.”

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Joe Solmonese said in a statement that he was particularly shocked by the White House’s move considering the amount of evidence supporting the necessity of such a measure. “No similar executive order has ever had this kind of extensive research or factual basis established,” he said.

But in a high-stakes election year in which Obama is going to need the support of moderate voters and business interests resistant to further regulation, facts—especially ones concerning the difficulties that gay and transgender individuals can face in their work-lives every day—aren’t likely to count for as much as we might hope.

UPDATE: The New York Times has criticized the President's decision, calling it a "sin of omission." "His hesitation to ban gay bias by government contractors, like his continued failure to actually endorse the freedom to marry, feels like a cynical hedge," the editorial board writes.

*Clarification: This post originally suggested that President Obama, himself, informed lobbyists of the decision, when, in fact, top aides delivered the news.
posted by:
Gerbil
Chicago
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  • I think it is simple, they want to take the same legislative route they took to end Don't Ask Don't Tell. An executive order would not have the same legitimacy within our society, whereas taking the legilslative route will have more legitimacy and staying power as a long term policy. People had the same arguments regarding an executive order ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, but what will be remembered in the end is that it was ended and done so by our duly elected legislative body and then signed by the President. In other words, through this route you won't hear cries of "dictator" from the haters.
    • who cares if you hear cries of "dictator" from haters? we've heard that from haters throughout his presidency, regardless.

      besides:
      <With Republicans in control of the House, an anti-discrimination law is unlikely to pass.>
      articles.latimes.com/2012/ap...20120412

      <executive order>

      ironic that an executive order created this discrimination ain't it?
      • As I explained, going through the legislative process lends more legitimacy and creditiliby to the process, thereby strengthening it's long term vability and staying power. An executive order can be declared null and void by the next Presidents dueling executive order, not so easy to do with a law passed by the legislature and signed by the President.

        <<With Republicans in control of the House, an anti-discrimination law is unlikely to pass

        That may well be true, but the fact still remains that the first step is to try the legislative process, failing that the executive order should be reconsidered. Executive orders should be the last resort, not the first resort.

        <<<executive order>

        ironic that an executive order created this discrimination ain't it? <<

        Exactly my point. Executive order created it, executive order can overturn it, and then executive order can in fact reinstate it under the possibility of a future Republican President. Executive orders don't have the staying power of legislation that is written in to law.

        Now, if I remember right I believe you said the same thing about Obama using the executive order to end Don't Ask Don't Tell, if I am incorrect and that was someone else then I apologize for misremembering. But the fact remains that nobody is going to remember by what means Obama achieved the end of Don't ask Don't Tell, only that it was achieved. If executive order had ended DADT it could have easily been reinstated by a Republican President. The route taken to end DADT has more staying power, and in my opnion this and future achievements for these rights will go down in history as being equivalent to the signing of civil rights legislation. There is much more to do, somethign I absolutely acknowledge, and that includes Obama. But we must remember the historic nature of the changes we are seeing in our lifetimes and how best to ensure that these changes have staying power.
        • <Exactly my point. Executive order created it, executive order can overturn it, and then executive order can in fact reinstate it under the possibility of a future Republican President. Executive orders don't have the staying power of legislation that is written in to law. >

          this is moot. legislation can easily be overturned by future legislators, not to mention legislation can also be overturned by the supreme court. it's not like legislative action is permanent. nothing in a system of checks and balances and the constant refreshing of bodies in the office of president, congress and on the bench makes something permanent.
          • <<this is moot. legislation can easily be overturned by future legislators

            Nothing moot about it. You are ignoring the core of my point, namely that one person in the future would be able to overturn these gains with a stroke of a pen, a future anti-gay Republican president. Whereas overtuning a law voted on by 100s of individual legislators and signed by the President would require yet another vote by 100s of individual legislators to overturn. Obviously one path is easier than the other in regards to overturning these changes. Once these rights are passed via legislation, you will have many legislators very reluctant to overturn a law granting rights to this minority group.

            <<not to mention legislation can also be overturned by the supreme court.

            Now that is a real moot point being that the Supreme Court can overturn executive orders as well, it changes nothing in regards to the logic I have layed out.

            <<it's not like legislative action is permanent. nothing in a system of checks and balances and the constant refreshing of bodies in the office of president, congress and on the bench makes something permanent.

            I spoke of no such permanancy, I spoke about that which would be more likely to have staying power and credibility in the long term.
          • It should also be noted that Obama has a history of want to take the legislative route first, and then going the route of executive orders if all else fails. For instance, at the outset of changes to stem cell research he said that he'd rather have congress pass stem cell research given that they are the people's representatives. Congress failed to act and Obama signed an executive order. The point being that "the peoples representatives" passing a law has more legitimacy than one person dictating laws. So there are many reasons that the legislative route should be exhausted first.
            • waiting for congress, especially when the house is in republican hands and ENDA has little chance of passing, is a cop-out against taking a principled stand against discrimination.
              • <<waiting for congress, especially when the house is in republican hands and ENDA has little chance of passing, is a cop-out against taking a principled stand against discrimination.

                In reality it is part and parcel to how Obama has approached the use of executive orders, a practice that was abused by GW Bush and decried by Obama himself. Which is why it is important to lend legitimacy and staying power to the process by at least attempting to take the route intended by our founding fathers via the peoples elected representatives. Not to mention that this route forces the GOP to take a stand for or against discrimination, something that will become part of their permanent record and something they will have to answer for come election time. Failing that route the executive order option will be taken, as Obama has indicated. This is exactly how ending DADT was approached and it was ultimately successful, even though you and others were impatient and pushing the executive order route. Was it a cop-out on Obama's part to take this route to end DADT? Something he is higlighting as a White House achievement? If they are not shying away from allowing gays to openly serve in the Military, I can assure you that they are not shy about ending this discrimination as well. This demonstrates that this is not about fear of being associated with these historic changes, it is about choosing the best possible route to get to that achievement and have it be sustainable and long lasting. This is a reality regardless of the impatience of many on the left. It will not be remembered by what route these historic changes have been achieved, they will be remembered for the historic achievements they are. As a matter of fact, I think most people have already moved past their impatience with the ending of DADT being achieved through the legislative process as opposed to being accomplished via executive order.

                Let's review that recent history so as to put this process in context:

                en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DADT...ct_of_2010
                • the key difference is that obama had a majority in congress when DADT passed, whereas now, he only has control of the senate. it's a lot easier to take a legislative tact when you have the votes. besides that, DADT barely passed and when it did, it passed in a lame-duck session of congress. how legitimate is it that many senators and representatives voted on the bill as they were being swept out of office?

                  <the process by at least attempting to take the route intended by our founding fathers via the peoples elected representatives>

                  this is nothing more than romanticized malarkey. it's terribly sad that you compare obama issuing an order to end discrimination in federal contracts to the total abuses of power enacted by bush in his orders.

                  <I can assure you that they are not shy about ending this discrimination as well.>

                  my reservations would be sated if they didn't pussyfoot around the issue and took a firm, principled stand, instead of hiding behind congress and, in the process, legitimizing the opposition and the discrimination you "assure" me they are "not shy about ending".
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    <<the key difference is that obama had a majority in congress when DADT passed.....

                    Sure, that may well make a difference as to if this will pass. Be that as it may, my primary points stand.

                    <<<the process by at least attempting to take the route intended by our founding fathers via the peoples elected representatives>

                    this is nothing more than romanticized malarkey.<<

                    Nothing Malarkey about it, this is the entire basis of our form of Govt.

                    <<it's terribly sad that you compare obama issuing an order to end discrimination in federal contracts to the total abuses of power enacted by bush in his orders.

                    What is terribly sad is your mischaracterization of my words. I am not comparing issuing this order to the abuses of the EO process by Bush. What I am doing is correctly demonstrating that Obama has taken a principled stance against such abuses, and as a matter of policy prefers to try the legislative route first thereby lending legitamcy to the process, not to mention that it forces Republicans to take a stand on the issue so that they are held accountable for their positions.

                    <<my reservations would be sated if they didn't pussyfoot around

                    And yet you also claimed they pussyfooted around with ending DADT. All that will be remembered is that it was ended, not that it was ended 6 months later than you would have prefered.

                    <<and took a firm, principled stand

                    Their statements about what they want the end result to be is both principled and firm. You are conflating process with principled.

                    <<instead of hiding behind congress

                    How can they be hiding behind something when they are out front actively promoting that this be passed via legislative process? How does actively promoting the end of this discrimination = hiding from anything?

                    << legitimizing the opposition

                    The White House is actively and openly promoting the end of this discrimination, which in no way legitimizes the opposition. As a matter of fact, forcing the "opposition" in to an up or down vote in the issue will put make them in to a position of having to answer to the American public for their vote. In reality it could ultimately deligitimize them in the eyes of the public. How about that. :)~

                    What is clear is that you are confusing process with principled position, they are not one in the same.
              • I would also like to reiterate what I see as the importance of forcing the GOP to take a stand on the issue, the American public needs to understand the kind of bigotry that yet exists within the Republican establishment so that they can make a more informed decision about their vote come this fall.
                • if the american people don't already know the bigotry that exists in the republican party, which has been apparent since before the 1970s, then they are fools.

                  obama should issue the executive order and relish the fight in congress it would supposedly initiate due to its lack of legitimacy.
      • And just to clarify, I am not trying to say that executive orders don't have the power of law, they do. They just don't have the same sort of long term viability and credibilyt of laws passed by the legislature, ie., the process intended by our founding fathers.
  • www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...og.html
    Posted at 05:25 PM ET, 05/07/2012
    Top Obama donors witholding money over executive order punt
    By Greg Sargent

    Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser’s office tells me. In some cases, I’m told, big donations are being withheld.

    Jonathan Lewis, the gay philanthropist and leading Democratic fundraiser, is one of many gay advocates who has been working behind the scenes to pressure Obama to change his mind. When Obama decided against the executive order last month, arguing that he would pursue a legislative solution instead, advocates were furious — such a solution will never pass Congress, the executive order has been a priority for advocates for years, and the move smacked of a political cave to conservatives who will not support Obama no matter what he does.

    Now these and other donors are beginning to withold money from Priorities USA, the main pro-Obama super PAC, out of dismay over the president’s decision. (Some of these donors have already maxed out to the Obama campaign, I’m told.) It’s the first indication that areas in which Obama is at odds with gay advocates — and in fairness, his record on gay rights has been very good — could dampen overall fundraising.

    Paul Yandura, a political adviser to Lewis, emails me a statement:

    A number of gay and progressive donors, unsolicited, have indicated to us that they aren’t considering requests to donate to the Obama SuperPac because of the president’s refusal to the sign the order. And those are high-dollar asks, some in the seven digits. We have heard from at least half a dozen major gay and progressive donors that they stand united with us. There is still time for the President to do the right thing and sign this executive order, our great hope is that he does so immediately.

    He declined to name names.

    This comes as the White House is on defense on gay rights today, after it furiously clarified Joe Biden’s vague but supportive comments about gay marriage. The walkback is mystifying to donors and advocates who are already miffed about the executive order, and could stiffen their resolve to keep their wallets closed.

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