Right Wing Lather Over Anticipated Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers
The political and religious right has long been up in arms over what it says is an excessive number of executive orders signed by President Barack Obama, but the anticipated signing of an order that would bar discrimination by government contractors against LGBT workers is generating even more heat.
Tony Perkins, the famously anti-gay head of the Family Research Council -- a group that purports to represent the interests of American families, but seems to exclude, and indeed target, families headed by same-sex couples -- issued an email in which he derided the expected executive order as "coercion," and shunned LGBT workers as being "sexually confused."
The email was the subject of a posting at gay news site JoeMyGod. Perkins also slammed Gay Pride Month.
""After 30 days of nonstop, in-your-face celebration, the White House is capping off ’gay pride’ month with its biggest gift yet," Perkins railed. "Next Monday, the pot of gold at the end of this President’s rainbow is an executive order giving special workplace benefits to the sexually confused.
"For the far-Left, it caps off a long fight to get the administration to do what Congress has not: order employers to put aside their profits, principles, and practices in the name of political correctness," the blast from Perkins thundered on. "The President’s order implementing part of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) -- once considered ’too radical’ even for his own party -- forces government contractors and subcontractors to hire gays, lesbians, transvestites, and transsexuals -- regardless of their legally protected morals."
Added Perkins, "This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail -- and from the federal government no less!"
Reports that the president had decided to sign an executive order protecting gay and lesbian workers surfaced in the press in mid-June. The anti-gay pushback was instantaneous, with individual with the FRC, Peter Sprigg, losing no time in broadcasting his objections on June 16. Sprigg’s comments were reported that same day by RightWing Watch.
"This political gesture reflects the president’s repeated disregard for the legislative process," Sprigg’s scathing, if somewhat scattershot, statement declared. "Congress has not passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) or similar provisions, despite activists’ pressure to do so, because of the detrimental impact on employers’ and employees’ constitutional freedoms of religion, speech, and association. Historically, these kinds of provisions have not been applied to conduct-based distinctions that are not found in the Constitution."
Previous reports in the press had noted that despite passing the Senate and enjoying strong support in the House, the most recent attempt to pass ENDA was effectively killed by House Speaker John Boehner, who refused to allow the measure to come up for a vote.
Not touching upon any of this at all, Sprigg charged ahead, though with a somewhat baffling change of direction. "Today’s announced executive order will give activists a license to challenge their employers whenever they feel aggrieved, exposing those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts," Sprigg continued.
Sprigg’s statement went on to depart even further from the concrete and fizzled in a nebulous wisp: "Furthermore, by requiring federal contractors to consider characteristics and behaviors related to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, this policy will make contractors liable for protecting actual or perceived self-disclosed and fluid identities that may not even be known."
Whatever the FRC’s claims might mean, Boehner recently made a much less ambiguous announcement, saying that he would use taxpayer money to file suit against the Obama Administration to curb the president’s use of executive orders. Critics say that Obama has used this executive privilege to side step a Congress that has long been locked into deep, even bitter, divisions and legislative paralysis.