White House officials said Wednesday that Obama would prefer a law that would bar discrimination — though they did not rule out signing the order at some point. “The President is dedicated to securing equal rights for LGBT Americans and that is why he has long supported an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in an e-mail. “The President is committed to lasting and comprehensive change and therefore our goal is passage of ENDA, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination — just as the President pressed for legislative repeal of DADT.”
President Obama has repeatedly punted on employment discrimination, telling activists to focus on the stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) rather than on an Executive Order.
The executive order, which activists said had support from the Labor and Justice Departments, would have applied to gay, bisexual and transgender people working for or seeking employment from federal contractors. Current law does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and legislation to do so, which Mr. Obama endorses, lacks sufficient votes in Congress. “While it is not our usual practice to discuss executive orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an executive order on L.G.B.T. nondiscrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time,” said an administration official who would speak about the controversy only if provided anonymity. “We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with Congressional sponsors to build support for it.”
Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) added gender identity to the equal employment opportunity policy governing all federal jobs
President Obama believes that advancing the human rights of minorities and the marginalized is a fundamental American value. He is the first President of the United States to have a closed-door meeting with transgender activists concerning transgender rights.
Nationally, the President ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no-match” letters, stopping the practice of notifying employers about differences between gender markers on employees’ W-2 forms and Social Security records—a step toward ensuring that transgender Americans are not accidentally outed at work.
In addition to naming three openly transgender Presidential appointees, President Obama banned discrimination in Federal workplaces based on gender identity, and his administration released guidance to help ensure safe work environments for transgender federal employees.
The President is committed to expanding funding for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to ensure that voting rights are protected and Americans do not suffer from increased discrimination during a time of economic distress. President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.