Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

White House Whopper on ENDA Executive Order

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 13, 2012 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ENDA, ENDA executive order, Freedom To Work, Tico Almeida

As I explained yesterday, the White House has a lot of reasons not to sign the ENDA Executive Order. They're now saying that the reason they're not signing the ENDA Executive Order is because they are passionately and fiercely dedicated to passage of a much more comprehensive LGBT rights bill -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said this yesterday:

And I think, again, the approach that we took in bringing about the repeal -- working with Congress to bring about the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" is instructive here. And as it did then, our approach to this piece of legislation demonstrates the President's very firm and strong commitment to non-discrimination and to securing equal rights for all Americans...We are, however -- in another demonstration of the President's firm commitment to securing equal rights for the LGBT community -- aggressively pursuing passage of ENDA."

What?! Someone's pants are on fire, and they're not mine.

The White House's approach on the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell was not "working with Congress to bring about the repeal." It was waiting and watching until those GetEqual people chained themselves to the White House fence, and once repeal seemed inevitable, the White House weighed in.

On ENDA, the White House never weighed in, despite the fact that there only a few votes needed to pass it, and, in fact, declared they wouldn't, as it wasn't their place to do so.

This is a shell game -- watch the pea under the shell and see if you can figure out where it is this time. The Democrats have successfully played a shell game with LGBT rights for quite a long time.

In my 2010 meeting with Melody Barnes, the Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, this is what happened:

She also noted he has mentioned ENDA, and that he believes it should be integrated into the agenda. He has articulated his support and will continue to. "We are not a barrier," she said. But, she continued, "we look to the Senate leadership; they know what we support and if the President were to push issues it would be a long list. It's up to them."

As I commented at that time, this isn't fierce advocacy:

To me, the analogy that comes to mind is that of a patient, stricken with some terrible illness, listening to the doctor speak. "I have been working so hard on so many fronts to try to keep it from spreading," says the doctor. "We have been successful in beating it back a little. Your leg, for instance, is looking a little better" "But doc," says the patient, "I need more medicine, more treatments, it's not enough to just beat it back a little. My arms are no better, and I can barely lift my head." "I know," sighs the doctor, "My other patients' are equally frustrated with me. But I've managed to help some others, like John Smith, for example. He's all better now." "What?" says the patient, "why are you telling me about your frustrations and your other patients, doc? Why don't you tell me what else you're going to do for me?" "Well," says the doctor, "you should be more patient and more grateful for the little things. This isn't an easy business, you know."

I'm not suggesting that Ms. Barnes was complacent or glib. She was not -- quite the reverse.

But the patient isn't concerned with the doctor's feelings, and for good reason. The patient is concerned with getting well, and that is as it should be. If my doctor suggested that I be satisfied with only slight progress, I would get another doctor, or at least a second opinion.

Ms. Barnes also indicated then that getting bills passed is not part of the Administration's brief. "It's up to the leadership. They will have to decide what's important enough to move onto the floor for a vote." The White House will indicate its verbal support, but that's it.

I support the President. I passionately want him re-elected, and I have given personally of my money and time in the past few months to help his re-election. President Mitt Romney would be catastrophic for the LGBT community. But I as passionately believe that we must continue to take action as a nation to stop discrimination against the LGBT community. But the White House sat by and did nothing in 2010 when ENDA could have passed, and now that the window has passed because of the expected re-ordering of Congress in 2010, leaving the Democrats with not enough votes to pass ENDA -- now the White House wants to get behind ENDA? That horse has left the barn.

So then what is all this sudden rush by the White House to say that it's totally behind the ENDA legislation? What exactly are they doing to "aggressively pursue" ENDA? In the absence of any indication that they are really doing something on ENDA -- other than giving lip service -- I'd have to say they're playing a shell game. I'll still support the President, aggressively, I might add, but don't expect me to sit quietly when my intelligence is so badly insulted.

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