Republican Speaker of the US House John Boehner today told the House LGBT (aka gay) caucus that the US House will not pass ENDA, a gay jobs bill, this year.
ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is legislation that would make it illegal at the federal level to discriminate against gay and trans people in hiring, firing and promotions. Currently at the federal level it is legal to not hire, fire, or not promote someone because they’re gay or transgender. ENDA, which has already passed the US Senate, would change that.
Fast forward to yesterday. The White House announced, as part of the ramp-up to the State of the Union address, that the President would issue an executive order mandating that employees of federal contractors must be paid a minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour.
It was an interesting move, as gay rights advocates have been asking the White House, for several years now, to issue an executive order mandating that ENDA apply to federal contractors. The White House has so far refused, claiming that they’d rather go the legislative route, via Congress, where a fix could be more sweeping (beyond just federal contractors), and more permanent (as it’s easier for the next president to rescind an executive order than it is to get legislation repealed).
But now with the action on the minimum wage, the White House has weakened their argument that they prefer the legislative route. And with today’s news that Boehner has said flat-out that ENDA will not pass the House this year, the floor has pretty much fallen out of the White House’s excuse for not doing an ENDA executive order.