Politico's Coverage of Obama's 'LGBT Executive Order' Ignores Left's Withdrawal of Support for ENDA

President Obama signed an executive order on Monday which will force many religious organizations and their members to sever their service and business ties with the federal government if they wish to stay true to their beliefs.

The EO adds "sexual orientation and gender identity" to the bases upon which contractors cannot discriminate if they wish to continue doing business with Uncle Sam. Jennifer Epstein's coverage at the Politico blithely assumed that everybody knows what "LGBT" means. The acronym is in her headline and content, while none of the four words comprising its meaning — lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender — appear anywhere in her writeup. Epstein also erroneously contended that "LGBT" advocates are still shooting for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), when the fact is that, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, they now oppose it. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Obama signs LGBT executive order

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President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order aimed at protecting workers at federal contractors and in the federal government from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American,” Obama told a group of LGBT activists gathered in the East Room of the White House. Later, he added, “we’re on the right side of history.”

It’s a move that both answers years of calls for action from LGBT activists and serves as a reminder of the limits of presidential power. While the executive order applies to 30,000 companies employing 28 million workers — one-fifth of the U.S. workforce — it does not reach all employers nationwide.

The administration had held off on the order as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act made progress moving through Congress, including a bipartisan 64-32 vote in the Senate. But after months of inaction from the House, and as Obama responds to midterm pressures, the White House chose to act where it could this summer.

“I’m gonna do what I can with the authority I have” to protect workers, Obama said. “This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness. People lose their jobs.”

The executive order, the president reminded the crowd, is just the latest development in the rapid expansion of rights for LGBT Americans. It’s a reminder, he said, of “extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes but in the last five years, the last two years, the last one year.”

... The White House resisted the calls from some religious leaders — including Michael Wear, the head of religious outreach for Obama’s 2012 campaign, and Joel Hunter, the Florida megachurch pastor who is a close spiritual adviser to the president — for the order to include a wide-ranging exemption for contractors with religious affiliations, though it does maintain a 2002 amendment to Johnson’s order, signed in 2002 by George W. Bush, that allows those employers to favor workers of their own faith for religious roles, such as members of the clergy.

... LGBT advocates, meanwhile, have been broadly positive about the executive order, describing it as an historic step that must be followed by congressional action on ENDA.

Epstein's failure to explain what "LGBT" stands for is a bit presumptuous, given that a Google Newspaper Archives search only surfaced 89 uses of the term in news reports in roughly the past 15 years, and that a search at Vanderbilt's TV News Archive only shows eight uses of the term, all of them in the past 3-1/2 years.

As to Epstein's last excerpted paragraph, it simply isn't so.

On July 8, a group of "national LGBT legal organizations" issued a "Joint Statement on Withdrawal of Support for ENDA." Some of its text included the following:

The provision in the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that allows religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a source of significant concern to us. Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable. It would prevent ENDA from providing protections that LGBT people desperately need and would make very bad law with potential further negative effects. Therefore, we are announcing our withdrawal of support for the current version of ENDA.

... ENDA’s discriminatory provision, unprecedented in federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, could provide religiously affiliated organizations – including hospitals, nursing homes and universities – a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people. The provision essentially says that anti-LGBT discrimination is different – more acceptable and legitimate – than discrimination against individuals based on their race or sex. If ENDA were to pass and be signed into law with this provision, the most important federal law for the LGBT community in American history would leave too many jobs, and too many LGBT workers, without protection. Moreover, it actually might lessen non-discrimination protections now provided for LGBT people by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and very likely would generate confusion rather than clarity in federal law. Finally, such a discrimination provision in federal law likely would invite states and municipalities to follow the unequal federal lead. All of this is unacceptable.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision. Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination.

Our ask is a simple one: Do not give religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT people when they have no such right to discriminate based on race, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

The coalition's opposition isn't exactly a secret, given that the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe covered it on July 9, generating considerable discussing throughout the center-right and leftist blogosphere.

At the Associated Press, Nedra Pickler's coverage of Obama's EO incompletely noted the following (parentheticals are mine): "... legislation that would extend the (discrimination) ban (to include "LGBT") has become embroiled in a dispute over whether religious groups should get exemptions." She also did not note advocacy groups' withdrawal of support for ENDA.

So-called "LGBT advocates" will settle for nothing less than forcing religious denominations, their leaders, and their members to choose between participation in the public square and violating their consciences. Naturally, no one is reporting that, because no one in the establishment press ever asks any leftist group what their ultimate goals are. That would generate opposition. It's much better from their standpoint to let it all gradually sneak up on the general population.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.