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It will be interesting to see how much election-year trouble the administration may have gotten itself into by deciding not to move ahead this year with an executive order adding sexual orientation and gender identity to an already-existing executive order that bans discrimination by federal contractors.
A lot of people don’t realize that we already have an executive order covering all the traditional civil rights groups. This move would simply ensure that everyone is covered.
While it’s understandable that the administration doesn’t want to do something it perceives as controversial during an election year, as we’ve written on this blog numerous times before, when is a good time, a “safe” time, to move ahead on civil rights? If civil rights were 100% popular we wouldn’t need to be advocating for them.
Having said that, banning employment discrimination has always been popular, so it’s questionable how much trouble the President would get in by signing this executive order. In fact, we saw with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, that after putting up some resistance to the repeal, the Republicans basically folded. Once we got enough votes to break their filibuster, GOP Senator John McCain, who was leading the attack against repeal in the Senate, didn’t even bother using the remainder of his floor time – and he had hours and hours left – to try to embarrass the President on the issue. Just as surprising, two additional, and unexpected, GOP Senators voted for the repeal on final passage.
Why? Because gay and trans civil rights just aren’t that embarrassing any more. At least they shouldn’t be. And aren’t… outside of Washington. In an era in which Republicans are increasingly afraid of saying anything anti-gay, lest they incur the wrath of moderate swing voters, Democrats remain queasy on the issue, and it isn’t entirely clear why.
More on this story here.