Sometimes greeted with applause and sometimes greeted with howls of protest, President Obama has created many executive orders during his first term in office. In fact, since this past autumn the White House has argued that frequent use of its executive order power allows the administration to move on issues that the American people "can't wait" for other legislative or judicial action on.
However, a pressing issue related to GLBT rights in the workplace will not be the subject of an executive order anytime soon. This past week, a senior adviser to the president delivered the message to activists that the White House will not soon be penning an executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals by employers subject to federal contracts.
Though the Justice and Labor Departments apparently support the creation of such an order, the White House insists that it will defer to Congress on this issue for now. Even though related legislation does not currently have enough support to be passed, the White House has insisted that, "We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with Congressional sponsors to build support for it."
Current anti-discrimination law does not explicitly protect employees from bias based on gender identity or sexual orientation. While the president is advocating for a more broadly inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he is refusing to push this agenda through an executive order at this time.
The president of the Human Rights Campaign recently summed up the GLBT community's response to the news by stating that, "We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender."
Source: New York Times, "Obama Won't Order Ban on Gay Bias by Employers," Jackie Calmes, Apr. 11, 2012