The White House provided no new updates Wednesday on an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Asked at today's press briefing if President Barack Obama would sign such an executive order as he enters his second term, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would not speculate on a hypothetical situation and provided no updates on the president's position.
"Our position on that hasn't changed," said Carney. "The president supports an inclusive ENDA that would provide lasting and comprehensive protections for LGBT people across the country regardless of whether they happen to work for a government contractor. We look forward to continuing to support that process and that legislation."
Carney added that the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was a model for how to approach such legislation and indicated the White House continues to take a broader approach to addressing workplace discrimination through federal legislation.
"This president is committed to civil rights and to building on the protections that are necessary for LGBT people as he is for all Americans," Carney said.
Activists have renewed their calls for Obama to expand Executive Order 11246. First signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the order already prohibits federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. More than 26 million workers would be affected by the order. Although many federal contractors already have protections in place for LGBT workers, the Williams Institute indicates that 16.5 million work for federal contractors that do not.
In what was a major blow to advocates last April, Obama indicated he would not sign such an executive order at the time. Although the order has become a central focus of LGBT-rights activists following the president's re-election, the White House has given no indication that such an order will be signed.
As Metro Weekly has previously reported, candidate Obama said he would support a sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination policy for federal contractors if elected president. Although Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the bill remains stalled in Congress.
Advocates have argued signage of an executive order guaranteeing protections to at least part of the workforce would be a step in the right direction and help build momentum for ENDA. Legislation similar to ENDA has been introduced in Congress since the 1970s and faced continuous opposition from Republicans.
[Photo: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney]