Is Obama Doing Enough For the Gays? We Ask Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner About LGBT Workplace Discrimination and the White House [VIDEO]
Part 1 in a series.
Apart from GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans, there is no doubt that all the major organizations which make up Gay Inc will be solidly behind President Obama in his reelection campaign over the next six months. (Mitt Romney may have once pandered to gay voters in Massachusetts, but those efforts are now as dead as the Buffet Rule since Romney swung so hard to the right in his primary and pandered even harder to the National Organization for Marriage.)
For supporting him with gusto in 2008, the gays have gotten a couple big wins with President Obama, most noticeably passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Obama's gotten a bit of a pass on not coming out for marriage, as he (and Michelle) continue to play wink-wink, nudge-nudge around an issue that is largely out of the president's direct control.
But Gay Inc is starting to get very loud about an issue that is very much within the president's control, at least when it comes to federal contractors: protecting LGBT workers from being fired.
We asked Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly about it, who has the scoop.
Contrary to what many people assume, it's perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay in the vast majority of this country. (HRC puts the figure at 29 states where "LGB"s can be fired, and 34 states where "T"s can be.) The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would put an end to that, but ENDA has less of a chance of passing John Boehner's House of Representatives than...well...than any piece of legislative championed by President Obama.
It seems like the president would use a relatively easy stopgap here to achieve the same goal within his own business jurisdiction, as it were, and to issue an Executive Order banning discrimination against LGBT workers of contractors doing business with the federal government. Presidents have long utilized workarounds to achieve such goals when the legislature didn't suit them. President George W. Bush was known for his "signing statements"; we wrote just a couple days ago about how President Lincoln emancipated the slaves of Washington, D.C. in 1862 when he couldn't do so in any state.
So you'd think Obama would simply sign an Executive Order saying the part of the government under his purview will battle and end LGBT employment discrimination with the levers at its disposal...especially since, as Geidner reported exclusively in March, candidate Obama vowed to do just that back in 2008.
Why hasn't President Obama done this?
Watch our chat above to find out why.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.