On Monday, President Obama’s staff began putting together an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT employees of government employed contractors. While it can usually be assumed that anything Obama does will be met with vicious opposition on the Right, Republican lawmakers have not yet decried the order and have in fact been strangely silent on the issue.
Democrats have struggled for years to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress with the most recent attempt coming to a standstill in the GOP-led House. Apparently fed up with the inaction of Congress, Obama will use his executive power to finally push for more workplace equality. Senator Jeff Merkley, a sponsor of the ENDA bill, praised the President’s action:
“With this announcement, the arc of history bends a little further toward justice. Discrimination simply has no place in American workplaces. This executive order will allow millions more Americans to go to work empowered with the right to do their jobs free of harassment or discrimination.”
Republicans however have been awfully silent regarding the impending executive order. Since they’re a group that seems to pride themselves in saying “no,” it’s unusual not to see the GOP inciting their conservative base into a roil of anti-gay bigotry. Conservative groups are still making their opposition know, such as the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition Ralph Reed. Reed’s objections seem to be more about the president using the powers he has allotted to him, though, than about the actual order.
“It’s just another example of Obama attempting to achieve by regulatory or executive fiat what he is unwilling or unable to achieve legislatively…Obama could not pass ENDA in Congress, so he now seeks to impose it on the nation with the stroke of a pen.”
Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family believes that once the order is made public, Republicans will address it, but also fears “there should be a considerable amount of ‘pushback’ from the Hill or the president [will end up] advancing ENDA rather than an executive order.”
But perhaps Earll is being a bit too optimistic. It’s not hard to see that the battle for LGBT equality is succeeding. Almost every month another state strikes down another discriminatory law, and public opinion regarding gay marriage already favors equality and is steadily increasing. Getting rid of workplace discrimination is just the next step. Perhaps the GOP isn’t just biding their time on this one, maybe they’ve finally figured out that openly announcing your bigotry is bad for business.