President Obama told a reception held in the East Room of the White House Monday evening to mark LGBT Pride Month that his executive order on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be followed by another executive order, as well.
Obama lauded his healthcare law as ensuring “you can no longer be denied health insurance on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“We’ve still got a little more work to do. I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Right now, there are more states that let same-sex couples get married than there are states who prohibit discrimination against their LGBT workers. We have laws that say Americans can’t be fired on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability. But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -– not because of anything they’ve done but because of who they are. It’s upsetting. It is wrong,” he said.
In November, House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman said he would not support ENDA because “this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small-business jobs.”
GOP aides also stressed that protections for gays and lesbians already exist under law.
“The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won’t act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Obama said.
“And I’ve asked my staff to prepare a second executive order so that federal employees –- who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation –- will now formally be protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well,” he announced.
“So we’ve got a lot to be proud of, but obviously we can’t grow complacent. We’ve got to defend the progress that we’ve made… We’ve got to keep fighting for an AIDS-free generation, and for the human rights of LGBT persons around the world.”
The president also tried enlisting the LGBT activists to direct some of their energy toward pushing his policy agenda.
“And that means fighting for poor kids. And it means fighting for workers to get a decent wage. It means showing compassion for the undocumented worker who is contributing to our society and just wants a chance to come out of the shadows. It means fighting for equal pay for equal work. It means standing up for sexual — standing up against sexual violence wherever it occurs.”