White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today defended President Barack Obama’s decision not to act now to protect gay federal contractors, likening it to the administration’s strategy on the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy banning openly gay service members.
“The president is committed to supporting equal rights for all LGBT Americans,” Carney said when asked about the decision. He said the president supports the Employment Nondiscrimination Act covering all workers and does not anticipate issuing an executive order covering federal contractors.
“We believe this is the right approach to achieve success here,” he said.
Carney noted that the administration waited for legislation rather than acting unilaterally on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But he was challenged on that because the administration did take actions to defer expulsions from the military pending enactment of DADT repeal.
And gay advocates have ripped the decision on contractors and vow to keep up the pressure to act.
“This is a political calculation that cannot stand,” said Tico Almeida, president of gay rights group Freedom to Work. The group announced a “We Can’t Wait” campaign, backed by a $100,000 donation from liberal donor Jonathan Lewis, to pressure Obama. “I urged senior White House staff yesterday to reconsider their mistake. We will continue to publicly urge them to reconsider for many months to come. White House staffers and lawyers have let politics stand in the way of a basic American value — that a solid day’s work deserves a solid day’s pay, regardless of the color of your skin, your place of worship, your gender or who you love.”
Lewis also ripped Obama.
“This isn’t a broken promise President Obama can blame on Congress,” Lewis said in a statement. “He has not been able to provide a single valid reason for why he is now refusing to sign the executive order protecting LGBT workers. It has become increasingly clear that this decision is based on cowardice rather than principled leadership.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.