Boehner says no to ENDA, so where’s the executive order Mr. President?

Republican Speaker of the US House John Boehner today told the House LGBT (aka gay) caucus that the US House will not pass ENDA, a gay jobs bill, this year.

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is legislation that would make it illegal at the federal level to discriminate against gay and trans people in hiring, firing and promotions.  Currently at the federal level it is legal to not hire, fire, or not promote someone because they’re gay or transgender.  ENDA, which has already passed the US Senate, would change that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  The White House announced, as part of the ramp-up to the State of the Union address, that the President would issue an executive order mandating that employees of federal contractors must be paid a minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour.

 Unidentified participants taking part to the second gay pride march through the city of Thessaloniki on June 15, 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Portokalis /

Unidentified participants taking part to the second gay pride march through the city of Thessaloniki on June 15, 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Portokalis /

It was an interesting move, as gay rights advocates have been asking the White House, for several years now, to issue an executive order mandating that ENDA apply to federal contractors. The White House has so far refused, claiming that they’d rather go the legislative route, via Congress, where a fix could be more sweeping (beyond just federal contractors), and more permanent (as it’s easier for the next president to rescind an executive order than it is to get legislation repealed).

But now with the action on the minimum wage, the White House has weakened their argument that they prefer the legislative route.  And with today’s news that Boehner has said flat-out that ENDA will not pass the House this year, the floor has pretty much fallen out of the White House’s excuse for not doing an ENDA executive order.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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46 Responses to “Boehner says no to ENDA, so where’s the executive order Mr. President?”

  1. Kitty says:

    Gosh I swear the people that draft these bills are stupid! They totally forgot Gender Identity, and expression! If they pass this BS bill I should get someone to deny me service, and sue them as the law only protects them with sexual orientation. Piss on these stupid people and their laws. No matter what they do they’ll lose eventually, but their to blinded by hate to see it I guess!


  2. Kitty says:

    DADT repeal didn’t help trans people at all. Still more work to do to bad the LGB people don’t care enough to help with that. Shame I been waiting for years to serve =(. Either way I agree with your post completely! Just hope if he does something he includes the T!


  3. Meta Carpaltun says:

    I agree with the ENDA – it should have been passed a long time ago. However, people do get fired for being straight. There are three examples.

  4. cole3244 says:

    yes warren is my fav but her time is not now she needs more cred, to run her now would only waste a great candidate when she’s not ready, 20 or more likely 24 seems about right to me.

  5. chillinout. says:

    I’m skeptical of Hillary. I’d much prefer Warren. Try passing conservative legislation past her ;)

  6. chillinout. says:

    As great as an executive order is, it does virtually nothing. How many people work for the federal government? MAYBE 10% of the population? And in 2014, there’s very little discrimination against gays in the federal government. The elephant in the room (besides the GOP) is that almost all discrimination against gays happens in the private sector.
    Vote out ALL republican congressman who would vote to re-elect Boehner as speaker. The only way to get this passed is to give democrats the house

  7. ChrisDC says:

    John, I’ve disagreed with you on the E.O. on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination because I wanted efforts focused on ENDA (and a trans-inclusive ENDA at that). The Speaker just closed the door on that possibility. You were (and are) right, and I was wrong.

  8. cole3244 says:

    boy talk about an over reaction, i really must have hit a sore spot, i point out a fact and you go guilt freak on me.
    by the way i’m an atheist so any christian bs is all on your side.

  9. Silver_Witch says:

    And I thought we could have a rational discussion – it started out so well…I enjoyed your post – we agreed on several points. And now I am the downfall of all society. Sorry I feel for that last election with the Obama v Romney thing. Won’t do it again, but thanks for trying to guilt me into voting Democratic regardless of who they run!!!!!!!

    Kind of Christian-guilt.

  10. cole3244 says:

    remember what those that protested and voted for ralph nader got us.

  11. Silver_Witch says:

    Yes I can live with that. Hopefully the democratic party can live with it as well.

  12. cole3244 says:

    i understand but if that helps elect a goper would you regret that choice, if so don’t do it.

  13. Silver_Witch says:

    I will not vote for Hillary, I will not succumb to the lesser of two evils again in this life. I will write my own name in rather than vote for a candidate I know is not here for me, us.

  14. cole3244 says:

    no she isn’t much different but she has bigger balls, beggars can’t be choosey.

  15. cole3244 says:

    as i noted i don’t trust hillary but if she runs she will be the dem candidate and i will not vote far a goper.
    sanders i agree would be the optimum choice but as a legitimate lefty he has no chance of even getting the nomination from the dems much less winning the wh.
    hillary and obama would be virtually identical but at least she has bigger balls than he does.

  16. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrats are Republicans in drag. They pretend to be for ENDA but only when it has no chance of being passed or signed.

  17. Drew2u says:

    Let me know when somebody makes a petition against Kansas’ bill and I’ll update when I find S.D.’s.

  18. BeccaM says:

    BTW, according to a story on DKos, it looks like Kansas is moving a similar bill forward.

  19. BeccaM says:


  20. BeccaM says:

    I’ve said this before: We got the DADT repeal and the Obama Administration’s official 180 in its stance on DOMA only because we — LGBT activists and our allies — made their former “say the right things but do nothing” position politically damaging for them to maintain.

    As before, carrot alone won’t do the job here.

    And with this minimum wage increase, Obama and his Administration have made it abundantly clear they feel he has the power to enact sweeping changes through an executive order. There is not now nor has there ever been a valid excuse for not issuing one for LGBT anti-discrimination regs.

  21. Drew2u says:

    At least in this case a petition for an earlier bill garnered over 4,000 signatures and stopped that bill. Then this one cropped up and apparently another one numbered SB 66.
    Everyone’s welcome to spread the word on this!

  22. BeccaM says:

    I seem to recall a boatload of similarly bigoted legislation — racially biased — being passed in the 1950s and 60s in certain parts of the country, in a desperate attempt to lock racial discrimination and segregation in stone for all time.

  23. BeccaM says:

    As I remarked on the night of the SOTU, I half-facetiously joked that Boehner appeared to have injected himself with chameleon DNA and was attempting to blend in with the American flag’s red stripe directly behind him.

    Even though there are plenty of stories about Boehner’s orangeness, and he himself has repeatedly denied ever having used a tanning bed, he nevertheless rents a house in DC from a tanning bed lobbyist. And I’ve read many accounts about a form of ‘tanning addiction’, due to the endorphins released by the human body when under UV bombardment.

    So I dunno. He sure as hell looked incredibly red that night.

  24. Naja pallida says:

    Problem with the discharge petition is that it requires someone with courage try it, and the will to do the legwork. It’s not just a matter of someone making a declaration. He has to literally go from office to office to get people on board… and the entirety of the Democratic caucus is far too weak-kneed to put in the effort, or they’d have already tried it by now.

  25. Naja pallida says:

    Too much time taking personal bribes from his tanning bed lobbyist buddies, plus about six fingers of Maker’s Mark just before walking out to help hide his shame and prevent an onset of the weeps if the American dream is mentioned.

  26. FLL says:

    As I said in my reply to cole3244’s comment above, his analysis of Obama is spot on, as is yours. He needs to sign the EO, plain and simple. My comment from Tuesday explains why Obama is a hypocrite concerning the EO (link here).

    I haven’t heard the Discharge Petition mentioned in the media yet. Sounds like a great idea. It would be easy to get 217 House members in favor of ENDA. If this is really a workaround to get beyond Boehner’s “over-my-dead-body” attitude, it would be worth the effort. Newspaper editors and other political commenters should be talking about a Discharge Petition, if it’s really feasible.

  27. Richard says:

    Obama ought to be issuing executive orders on a daily basis, screw the republicans ! It’s time for Obama to issue an EO on ENDA now !

  28. craigkg says:

    Two words: Discharge Petition. The members of the House can bring legislation to the floor for a vote bypassing even a hostile speaker or committee approval if a simple majority (218 members) sign what is called a discharge petition. If all 200 Democrats signed on, we’d need just 18 Republicans to force a vote on ENDA. Right now H.R. 1755 has 195 Democratic co-sponsors and 6 Republican co-sponsors (including most recently Michael “I’ll break you in half like a boy” Grimm).

    That said, whether we can get a vote on H.R. 1755 (or the Senate version S.815 that has already cleared the Senate) or not is immaterial to the simple fact President Obama needs to sign the executive order. The currently effective executive order on federal contractor discrimination, EO11246, was signed an put into affect by LBJ after The Civil Rights Act of 1964, but had existed in several forms under previous EO’s dating back to FDR’s EO8802. EO11246 does more than the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in protecting federal contractors from discrimination based on their race, sex, ethnicity and national origin. The Civil Rights Act didn’t make the EO superfluous. Nor will the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 make an Obama EO in line with 11246 superfluous. Obama and his minions are being disingenuous and intellectually dishonest when they say they prefer the legislative route. The legislative routes that have been proposed don’t do what 11246 did or what the EO gay activists have been asking for would do. We need both ENDA and the the executive order patterned after the EO currently in affect regarding race, sex, ethnicity and national origin.

    Another reason he should sign it is that FDR’s two federal contractor EOs (8802 and 9981) and their progeny helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, just as the EO we want from Obama would build momentum towards passing ENDA. It won’t harm the cause, it will help it. Obama is hurting the cause by not signing it. Whereas the African-American community was able to progress step-by-step towards the CRA of 1964, Obama is telling us no we can’t have steps, we have to scale a high wall. And the only help he’s been willing to offer in this matter is a few all too rare pretty words to a limited audience.

    Obama is a coward. It has been 6 years. He squandered the golden opportunity to pass ENDA in 2009 and 2010 by hippie bashing us into silence on the issue and getting lackey to promise us the markup for the bill in the House was coming soon. It was always “Coming soon. In two weeks. Promise.” Two weeks later, it was “Coming soon. In two weeks. Promise.”

    He needs to sign it.

    Lest we forget:

  29. thesquid says:

    SUBJECT: Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination

    Sec. 3. Promoting Compliance with Existing Law Requiring Federal Workplaces to be Free of Discrimination Based on Non-Merit Factors. The Office of Personnel Management shall issue guidance within 90 days to all executive departments and agencies regarding compliance with, and implementation of, the civil service laws, rules, and regulations, including 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(10), which make it unlawful to discriminate against Federal employees or applicants for Federal employment on the basis of factors not related to job performance.

  30. thesquid says:

    I know so many Presidents and elected officials have done SO much before him, but… (with few exceptions, that was sarcastic). It’s also important to note that his executive order on minimum wage only affects Federal Contractors.

    “President Obama pushed for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in his first State of the Union address, and followed through on that commitment when he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ended for good on September 20, 2011, allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the U.S. military.

    The President and Attorney General announced in February 2011 that the Department of Justice would no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) against equal protection constitutional challenges brought by same-sex couples married under state law. President Obama also has expressed his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that would repeal DOMA and uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as other couples. On May 9, 2012, President Obama alsoexpressed his support for same-sex marriage. In an interview with ABC News, the President said he believes it’s important to “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

    Following a Presidential Memorandum issued by the President, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) now requires all hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds – just about every hospital in America – to respect the right of all patients to choose who may visit them during a hospital stay, including a visitor who is a a same-sex domestic partner. The President also directed HHS to ensure that medical decision-making rights of LGBT patients are respected.

    President Obama signed a memorandum expanding federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees.

  31. The_Fixer says:

    I largely agree with you save for one thing: Hillary. Although I agree about her willingness to fight, I don’t think that she’s all the different than Obama in her ideology.

    I do agree that the Democrats have recently given up on progressivism and liberal politics in general. Obama, being the leader of the party, has been a large part of that by embracing conservatism.

  32. The_Fixer says:

    I saw him on TV the other day and wondered if my TV needed to have the color adjusted. Then someone stood next to him and they looked OK, so it wasn’t my TV.

    I remember the giant Crayola crayon assortments and Boehner’s color from that box is Burnt Orange. He better lay off the tanning beds or he will be living in a skin cancer clinic soon.

  33. Silver_Witch says:

    I noticed that during the State of the Union, and the fact that he didn’t stand when the President spoke of equal pay for women….BUT there is NO War On Women!

  34. Silver_Witch says:

    Actually cole3244 you get a standing ovation from me…you are right on the mark re President Obama, sadly however I think you are “falling for it all over again” if you believe that Hilliary Clinton will be any different than President Obama has been.

    Warren is an unproven factor, prior Republican with “hawkish” tendencies I think we would find the same young senator in the White House that we have found with President Obama, not enough experience to do well.

    I would love to see Bernie Sanders run – he is one tough dude and strong in word and deed.

  35. FLL says:

    My mistake about the Senate majority leader. I don’t often think about the Senate majority leader blocking bills because the House speaker (historically) has always done that more consistently and in a more heavy-handed way. I was surprised to find out that the the existence of the Senate majority leader is a relatively recent phenomena, unlike the House speaker, who the Constitution names as second in line to assume the presidency (after the vice-president). The first Senate majority leader was in the 1920’s. Before that, the concept didn’t exist.

  36. nicho says:

    Speaking of Boehner — and we were, weren’t we? — the one thing I noticed, looking at photos of the SOTU, is that Boehner is now darker than Obama. Is he in a reverse Michael Jackson thing, in which he’s going to go from being a white man to a black woman?

  37. cole3244 says:

    the only solution is to elect more liberals if you can get any of the cowardly dems to even admit that they are liberal.

    the progressive label proves their cowardice too me and just confirms the right leaning politics most if not all the pols have taken in wash and around the country today.

    when bill clintion is considered to be a liberal the political equation in america has been set on its head.

  38. perljammer says:

    “Unlike the Senate, the House speaker has the power to prevent any legislation from receiving a vote in the House.”

    Actually the Senate Majority Leader can and does prevent legislation from being voted on in the Senate. The most recent example of this is Reid preventing a Senate vote on Iran sanctions.

  39. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Yep, it’s the duty of the state to protect someone’s religious prejudices.

  40. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    if you really think about it obama when he criticizes congress for inaction he never calls out the gop as the problem and by doing so he implicates the dems as part of the problem when they are not.

    An excellent point! But really it’s part of his whole dodge. “Oh, I’d love to do the right thing, but Congress(TM) ties my hands and provides me with a neat excuse for inaction.”

  41. dcinsider says:

    What he said.

  42. FLL says:

    Your analysis of Obama is spot on. Your analysis of the problem in Congress is also correct:

    …he never calls out the gop as the problem and by doing so he implicates the dems as part of the problem when they are not.

    My reply to S1AMER below offers supporting detail for your assessment of the problem in Congress.

  43. cole3244 says:

    if you really think about it obama when he criticizes congress for inaction he never calls out the gop as the problem and by doing so he implicates the dems as part of the problem when they are not.
    i think he is a pretender to the progressive (i am liberal) label he has been given and his history in the oval office proves that. imo he has done just enough to keep the left mollified while at the same time helping the right continue to disable the safety net in the name of lowering the deficit on the backs of the poor.
    he doesn’t return the taxes to the clinton rates not because he can’t but because he won’t and never wanted to.
    the left has become so enamored with winning that some have settled for a faux progressive and are convinced the dem candidate is actually left of center when they are only left of the opposing candidate but right of center in reality.
    as a liberal i am disappointed in obama and his timid response to the right, he had a chance in the first two years of his pres to get his agenda started but he waited until the house was lost to seek action, i think this was premeditated and shows his true colors as a friend to the right and not the left.
    if hillary is elected although i don’t have much faith in her politics i do believe she will fight for the things she believes in and will be more aggressive in dealing with the gop and not take a professorial approach to negotiating. we need nasty in the wh and she is the only nasty i see on the horizon. my choice warren is hopefully not far down the line.

    i expect push back from some of you so have at it or me!

  44. Drew2u says:

    South Dakota’s new bill is even more unabashedly stupid and bigoted than their first bill. God, that legislature is full of dumbasses:
    State of South Dakota





    Introduced by: Senators Jensen, Begalka, and Holien and Representatives Campbell, Kopp,

    May, Nelson, Olson (Betty), Qualm, Russell, Steele, and Wick

    FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, 1 An Act to protect the citizens and businesses of South Dakota

    2 regarding speech pertaining to views on sexual orientation and to provide for the defense

    3 of such citizens and businesses.


    5 Section 1. No person or entity may bring suit against another person for expressing their

    6 religious beliefs on the subject of sexual orientation. The Legislature finds that vocalizing the

    7 viewpoint that any specific sexual orientation is wrong or a sin is free speech protected by the

    8 First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by S.D. Const., Art. VI, § 5. Nothing

    9 in this Act allows speech designed to incite or threaten violence against any person or entity.

    10 Section 2. No person or entity may bring suit against a business for refusing to serve a

    11 person or couple based on sexual orientation. The Legislature finds that businesses are private

    12 and that their views on sexual orientation are protected to the same extent as the views of private

    13 citizens.

    14 No private business may be compelled to employ a person based on sexual orientation. The

    15 Legislature finds that any federal recognition of any specific sexual orientation as a protected

    170 copies were printed on recycled paper by the South Dakota

    Legislative Research Council at a cost of $.098 per page. v Insertions into existing statutes are indicated by underscores.

    Deletions from existing statutes are indicated by overstrikes.

    – 2 – SB 128

    1 class does not apply in South Dakota and may not be enforced within the geographical

    2 boundaries of South Dakota.

    3 The State of South Dakota finds that the Constitution of the United States does not grant the

    4 federal government of the United States the authority to govern speech relating to sexual

    5 orientation or the right of employers to determine whom they employ based upon sexual

    6 preference or orientation.

    7 Section 3. In any lawsuit brought in violation of section 1 or 2 of this Act, any judge

    8 presiding over the case shall:

    9 (1) Dismiss, with prejudice, any suit in which the defendant is charged for expressing the

    10 defendant’s religious beliefs on the subject of sexual orientation or advocating

    11 negative views on any specific sexual orientation;

    12 (2) Determine the lawsuit to be frivolous;

    13 (3) Levy punitive damages on any person who brings such a suit an amount no less than

    14 two thousand dollars; and

    15 (4) Require the person pay court costs for both parties.

    16 Section 4. The Attorney General of South Dakota shall, upon request, defend any person or

    17 business brought into state or federal court in alleged violation of section 1 or 2 of this Act.

  45. FLL says:

    From your comment: “But we also need to keep up the pressure on Congress…”

    You may have an unwarranted sense of optimism concerning ENDA’s chances during the next two years because many observers think there are enough votes in the House to pass ENDA. I actually agree with those observers. With 200 Democrats and 233 Republicans, ENDA supporters only a small fraction of the 233 Republicans to reach the a simple majority of 217. What you might be overlooking is that it is the majority of House Republicans (not the majority of all House members) that determines who the speaker is. Unlike the Senate, the House speaker has the power to prevent any legislation from receiving a vote in the House. In other words, it really doesn’t matter if 20 or 30 or even 100 Republican House members are willing to vote for ENDA. Since the majority of House Republicans are opposed to ENDA, John Boehner or any other speaker the Republicans choose will always prevent ENDA from receiving a vote in the House. Even if 100 House Republicans are willing to vote in favor, ENDA is doomed in the House until the Democrats win a majority and the House speaker is a Democrat. I’m sorry to pour cold water on your optimism, but that’s the reality.

    As far as the chances of the Republicans retaining control of the House in after this year’s November elections, Intrade (the Internet’s biggest online gambling site) puts those chances at 86.5 % (link here). That conclusion is also born out by American history. The party of a second-term president has only won seats in the midterm elections once since the Civil War. In 1998, the self-destructive House Republicans, who were in the majority and were intent on impeaching Bill Clinton, lost four seats but still retained control of the House. However, the House has never flipped control from one party to the other during the midterms in favor of the party of a second-term president… ever… in all of American History… ever… ever. I’m don’t think the people at Intrade will be proven wrong. No Democratic majority in the House, no Democratic House speaker. No Democratic House speaker, no ENDA. Someone’s got to say it.

  46. S1AMER says:

    Yeah, by doing one thing by executive order, the President makes it almost impossible to justify NOT doing something else by executive order. (But, yeah, the White House is most definitely correct in saying it’s better to do a thing — any thing — through legislation that’s harder to undo.)

    We need to keep pushing the White House for an EO requiring federal contractors to adopt non-discrimination policies (hell, even Exxon would have to stop their crap or give up selling petro stuff to the USofA!). But we also need to keep up the pressure on Congress, ’cause a law on all employers would still be so very much better than an EO affecting only some. The latter would pay a much higher eventual return on investment in time and resources by equality groups.

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