No executive order for gay federal contractors

President Barack Obama has decided not to take immediate action regarding anti-homosexual discrimination from contractors, according to the April 12 White House press briefing.

Resisting pressure from gay rights activists, the President decided not to sign an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination by any federal contractor on the basis of sexual orientation, the press briefing document said.

Instead, President Obama and his team will focus on passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

"We do not expect that an EO on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time," said Press Secretary Jay Carney.

This baffled many reporters in the press room, who cited the president's past statements that he supports non-discrimination policies in the workplace.

Instead, the administration will be looking to executives from major contractors and small business owners, the briefing continued, to build support for passage through Congress of a piece of legislation that would be far more comprehensive than an executive order.

"The president is dedicated to securing equal rights for all LGBT Americans," said Carney.  "And that is why he has long supported an inclusive employment non-discrimination act, which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," he added.

Carney said there are a number of strategies to attain this goal, including the passage of ENDA, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, has issued a statement saying, “This is a political calculation that cannot stand."

"Absolutely not," said Carney when asked if the non-signage is an election-year stunt.

The press secretary added that the administration is working with partners in the LGBT community to build the case for non-discrimination policies.

Some of these include government-backed data and analysis, building a coalition of key stakeholders and decision-makers, directly engaging with and educating all sectors of the business community -- from major corporations to contractors to small business -- and raising public awareness about the human and financial costs of discrimination in the work force, said Carney.

According to the briefing, a new federal contractor executive order for race, religion and sex hasn't been adopted since 1965.

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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