No ENDA Executive Order For Now

Senior White House officials angered a number of LGBT activists by informing them that, at this time, President Obama is not planning to sign an Executive Order similar to the controversial Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  Rather, the Administration will be supporting efforts to move ENDA through Congress. 

ENDA (H.R. 1397/S.811) would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Earlier this month, 70 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), sent a letter to President Obama asking him to sign an ENDA-like Executive Order aimed at federal contractors.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) then issued a statement that it “views this executive order as the single most important step that President Obama could take this year to eradicate anti-LGBT discrimination from American workplaces.” 

Responding to questions why the President had decided against an Executive Order, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated:

The President is dedicated to securing equal rights for all LGBT Americans.  And that is why he has long supported an inclusive employment non-discrimination act which would prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The President is committed to lasting and comprehensive non-discrimination protections, and we plan to pursue a number of strategies to attain that goal.  Our hope is these efforts will result in the passage of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination.

NRB opposes ENDA due to its lack of an effective exemption for religious employers. In the 111th Congress (2009-2010), NRB testified on this legislation before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. This perennial bill remains a priority for the LGBT lobby, so Senate action in the 112th Congress is possible. However, its path through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would be far more difficult.

  • Read the letter by Members of Congress asking for an ENDA Executive Order.
  • Read NRB’s testimony on ENDA before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in 2009.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations