President Obama has told his staff to draft an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal employees. (Via The White House)
Obama has stated in the past that he would not sign an order regarding LGBT discrimination because he hoped Congress would instead pass a similar bill. (Via WJLA)
The Los Angeles Times points out that this announcement is another sign of Obama's growing impatience with congress over failing to pass legislation.
Last year, the Senate approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (Via C-SPAN)
But, the legislation has stalled in the House, and House Speaker John Boehner has refused to even schedule a vote. "I think this legislation ... is unnecessary." (Via CNN)
So far the administration has been very vague regarding the specifics and a time table for the order. A move, The Huffington Post points out, could be to warn lawmakers that they have a limited window to pass legislation before he acts without them.
Despite claims to the contrary, Obama has actually issued fewer executive orders per day than George W. Bush and fewer still than Clinton or Reagan. (Via Talking Points Memo)
U.S. News and World Report points out many LGBT groups were praising Obama for the surprise announcement. A spokesmen for the Human Rights Campaign said: "Certainly this provides incredible momentum for the House of Representatives to pass ENDA ... This sets an amazing example to Congress that there's absolutely no reason not to get this done in this term."
A common argument against ENDA is that existing laws, such as the Civil Rights Act, already protect against such discrimination.
Sen. Orrin Hatch was among 10 Senate republicans to support ENDA. He told the Washington Blade he did so because of the religious exemptions within the bill, and he is calling for Obama to include the same exemptions in his order.
The White House hasn't revealed when Obama might sign the order but when he does it will reportedly extend not to just federal employees but federal contractors as well.