Obama punts on gay discrimination ban

posted at 4:16 pm on April 12, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Barack Obama knows the calculus. He figures he can afford to not issue an executive order to explicitly ban the hiring or firing of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity because he has already proved his commitment to LGBT issues with his support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and with his instructions to the Justice Department to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Seriously, that’s his logic.

President Barack Obama won’t issue an executive order anytime soon banning employment discrimination against gay and lesbian workers by federal contractors, officials said Wednesday, disappointing some gay-rights activists who had hoped for action on the issue ahead of the election. …

The order had long been under consideration by the Obama administration and had been reviewed by officials at the Justice and Labor departments, according to two people with knowledge of the process. But White House officials decided to hold off, at least until after the presidential election, these people said.

Several people attending the meeting said they left with the impression that the administration is wary of imposing additional requirements on businesses ahead of the election, not that it worries about taking a stand against employment discrimination. Republicans have repeatedly pilloried Mr. Obama for what they characterize as “job-destroying” rules, often pointing to regulations affecting the environment, health care and financial transactions.

If the reaction of one activist is any indication, Obama’s do-just-enough-but-not-too-much strategy works:

Robert Raben, a lawyer who has worked on this issue since 1993 and was also at the meeting, said any disappointment is counterbalanced by his satisfaction with Mr. Obama on other points. He said his understanding was that the order wasn’t being issued now because of concerns that Mr. Obama would be seen as over-regulating business.

“I’m encouraged to be reminded that the administration is so fantastic on LGBT issues generally,” he said. “I am frustrated that if tactics don’t come out the way certain advocates want, it is cast as a negative.”

‘Course, Raben is just one activist — and plenty of others are upset. Nevertheless, the episode remains an important reminder of Obama’s ideological-but-not-too-ideological approach to governance in his first term. In a second term, well, he’d have “more flexibility.”

Regarding the substance of the executive order, though: I’d like to revisit the subject of discrimination in hiring and firing. Recently, I wrote about the case of a law professor who was rejected for a position at the Iowa University School of Law because she has conservative political views. In that post, I came close to outright arguing that employers should be able to discriminate on whatever basis they so choose, assuming that most employers care most to have an employee who will do a job well. If an employer chooses to hire an identically qualified man over me because he’s a man, fine. That’s his prerogative. If an employer chooses to hire a less-qualified man over me because he’s a man, it’s still his prerogative — but that’s just plain stupid.

A part of me is still strongly considering sticking to this line — that the government shouldn’t interfere in hiring or firing at all. That means I would not only be against this particular executive order or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that is currently stalled in Congress, but also any kind of legislation that purports to address hiring and firing discrimination of any kind. It’d be no way to do business to hire and fire at the drop of a hat for arbitrary reasons like a person’s religion, gender, sexuality, race, etc. — but the business that engaged in such discriminatory practices would eventually pay the price (no truly decent employee would want to work there!), so why does the government need to be involved? I would like to note, though, that the case of the law professor was different because Iowa University College of Law is a taxpayer-funded school and so should be subject to what taxpayers deem to be fair hiring practices. It makes sense to me that Congress would pass laws to prevent unfair discrimination in hiring and firing at public institutions.


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UltimateBob on April 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM

What you do in your private time is your business, but if you let it become a problem in your job, it’s your employer’s business.

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t want to know.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Playin’ it both ways.

Battin’ for both teams..?

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

A part of me is still strongly considering sticking to this line — that the government shouldn’t interfere in hiring or firing at all.

That horse already left the gate.

squint on April 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Hey Obama…what do you have against me…

Hilary Rosen

PatriotRider on April 12, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Obama feels he has given enough “bones” to group for them to stay on the plantation… He is off to secure some other special interest groups support now.

melle1228 on April 12, 2012 at 4:24 PM

the business that engaged in such discriminatory practices would eventually pay the price (no truly decent employee would want to work there!)

Exactly right, and many consumers (myself included) would not purchase products from them. The market works, if we let it.

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 4:24 PM

What you do in your private time is your business, but if you let it become a problem in your job, it’s your employer’s business.

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t want to know.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Wah Wah but I need to be me all day long. Just because I cross-dress and wear garlic deoderant is no reason to discriminate against me at work. Wah Wah

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Litmus tests for college professors. Yes.

Blacksoda on April 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

The funny thing is that these regulations don’t really work. You really think someone who doesn’t like someone else can’t find a reason not to hire or fire them?

melle1228 on April 12, 2012 at 4:27 PM

The way some gays tried to hunt down Mormons in California, I don’t think Obama’s too worried about the pink vote. The Democrats probably already have a gay-baiting campaign planned between now and November anyway.

rhombus on April 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Battin’ for both teams..?

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Almost, 37.

The correct quip is:

“Swingin’ from both sides of the plate?”

BobMbx on April 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Playin’ it both ways.

AC/DC ?

Bmore on April 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Not the band either. ; )

Bmore on April 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM

“I’m encouraged to be reminded that the administration is so fantastic on LGBT issues generally,” he said…

That’s just fabulous…!

/

Seven Percent Solution on April 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

It’s triangulation.

He knows the LGBTUVWXYZ vote is going his way, because he can at least taunt them with the possibility of actually following through, while rightly pointing out that the Republicans won’t even consider doing it.

If he puts this off the table by issuing the order, he risks the interest group becoming a group of individuals, once their pet issues of the day are no longer a pressing matter.

So in order to keep them in line, he denies them what they really want.

Just another group of people put together by characteristic to keep on the plantation, that’s all.

This is how government is run with people like Obama in charge.

Red Cloud on April 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Switch Hitter?

He sure can’t pitch.

Joe Mama on April 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

On the down low. Said some guy named Larry Sinclair.

DanMan on April 12, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Maybe you haven’t worked out how you feel yet, Tina, but I’ve always thought the government should have almost no say in private hiring/firing decisions. Although, you laid out almost the entire case for it in your post.

I feel that markets have a way of correcting themselves, and any buisness that employs truly unfair (unacceptable) hiring practices will suffer from lack of patronage and lack of quality employees. While the government shouldn’t arbitrarily discriminate against people, private buisnesses should be free to do as they wish.

dkidic on April 12, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Whoo-hoo!!! As soon as the gay discrimination ban finally takes effect, I can’t wait to oogle those fabolous butch lumberjacky studs serve my food at Hooter’s.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. / sarc off

NapaConservative on April 12, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Switch Hitter?

He sure can’t pitch.

Joe Mama on April 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

He’s obviously a catcher.

But only Axelrod knows for sure.

NoDonkey on April 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Whoo-hoo!!! As soon as the gay discrimination ban finally takes effect, I can’t wait to oogle those fabolous butch lumberjacky studs serve my food at Hooter’s.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. / sarc off

NapaConservative on April 12, 2012 at 4:37 PM

As a female, if the workers are male-wouldn’t be bad for me. Of course women aren’t know for being as visual as men. I mean could you see a restaurant called “meatballs?”

melle1228 on April 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Playin’ it both ways.

Battin’ for both teams..?

thirtyandseven on April 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

You beat me to it….

jeffn21 on April 12, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Love the picture on the left. Is Obama preparing to audition for the Blue Man Group?

Resist We Much on April 12, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Playin’ it both ways.

…it seems like more than a few of us are thinking JugEars has those ears as a benefit!

KOOLAID2 on April 12, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Welcome to Hicksville, Obama voters. You were the smartest people in the room and you still got played for suckers.

Bishop on April 12, 2012 at 4:50 PM

No matter how many ways I attempt to consider this, it totally confuses me.
I’m a simpleton, I guess.
Sigh.

pambi on April 12, 2012 at 4:50 PM

As a female, if the workers are male-wouldn’t be bad for me. Of course women aren’t know for being as visual as men. I mean could you see a restaurant called “meatballs?”

melle1228 on April 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I understand, but in your case, I would hate to know what the Chippendale’s Women would look like.

And Hooter’s could be renamed Cojone’s

NapaConservative on April 12, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I take that back, rename it Huevo’s

NapaConservative on April 12, 2012 at 4:55 PM

disappointing some gay-rights activists who had hoped for action on the issue ahead of the election. …
======================================

Wait a minute,Hopey wants to wait till after the election,just like Keystone Oil Pipeline debackle,I sense a pattern here!

And,like Bill Clinton,he’ll wait for the LGBT Vote,then,toss’em
under da bus!!

canopfor on April 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

In a second term, well, he’d have “more flexibility.”
=====================================================

Oh the pattern continues,didn’t Hopey say the same thing to the
Ruskies!!

canopfor on April 12, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Despite what stealth progressive groups like the “log cabin republicans” and “GOProud” say, homosexuals vote overwhelmingly for the democrat party – and nothing the GOP can do could possibly get them to change, nor anything the democrat party could do to not get their vote.

Pandering to the progressive homosexual agenda, is pure electoral suicide for the republican party.

Rebar on April 12, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Playin’ it both ways.

He does on everything but here he is a natural.

Schadenfreude on April 12, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Oh the pattern continues,didn’t Hopey say the same thing to the
Ruskies!!

canopfor on April 12, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Why yes. Yes he did. “Hopey changey” has morphed into “Let me show you my flexibility…in about nine months. And then it’s on! In the meantime, stay sexy, baby. Peace out!”

cicerone on April 12, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Affirmative action, first instituted by John F. Kennedy in 1961 by executive order, and amended and expanded by successive Presidents, also by executive order, in order to see that people of various and specific groups who were under represented in the workplace and on college and university campuses were given an opportunity to succeed. A laudable ambition. However, affirmative action directives guarantee that employers cannot simply hire the most qualified candidate regardless of race, creed, color, sex, religion, age, ethnicity, or sexual preference. It demands that people who are less qualified be hired ( and admitted to universities and colleges) ironically, based on their race, creed, color, sex, religion, age, ethnicity, or sexual preference in the name of non-discrimination and diversity in the workplace when the person from one of the aforementioned groups is deemed to be under represented at any given workplace or campus.

After over 50 years of this practice, and equality in the classrooms, I think its time to abandon this practice once and for all and level the playing field once again.

This, albeit well intentioned hiring and admission practice, is discriminatory. The most qualified applicant for a job or admissions who is passed over in favor of a less qualified person who is deemed to be ‘under represented’ at that workplace or on that particular campus, is harmed by that decision and their future success is imperiled as well.

The individual who IS hired using affirmative action directives despite not being well qualified, may well find themselves unable to perform at required levels for the position or program and eventually fail. This harms that individual and imperils their ability to succeed in the future as well.

I am deeply in favor of equality without preference or prejudice. I am also deeply in favor of fair competition. Affirmative action had its reasons and laudable goals, but after 50 years I think its time to examine whether those goals were met and how the program has actually served the people of this nation.

Those who have worked hard, have proven their dedication and determination to succeed, and have made themselves the most qualified for any given position or program should be hired or admitted. Those who are not well qualified should reassess their goals, work harder to become well qualified, or find another endeavor on which to train their efforts.

So, essentially, I take issue with the notion that an employer can hire whomever they deem to be best qualified… regardless of whether President Obama acts on this issue or not.

thatsafactjack on April 12, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Of course Barry is playing it both ways. He knows who he can crap on and still count on their vote. Blacks, gays, and Hispanics immediately come to mind. No worries. It’s not like those groups, as a whole, won’t support him. And he knows it.

GarandFan on April 12, 2012 at 5:25 PM

But White House officials decided to hold off, at least until after the presidential election, these people said.

Just one more hint of what a free-for-all Obama’s second term will be. There will be nothing that prevents him from implementing all his pet goals, especially since he already feels empowered to do end-runs around congress.

KS Rex on April 12, 2012 at 5:32 PM

President Obama is Bipolitical.

portlandon on April 12, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Here is why Obama punted:

Gay rights are a potential hot button issue with black and hispanic voters. Gay voters in the 2008 election exit polls accounted for about 4% of voters. Black and hispanic voters accounted for a lot more than 4% of voters.

Obama knows which side of his bread has the most butter.

crosspatch on April 12, 2012 at 5:52 PM

Dumped by the President:

Hey there, Gays. How’re you doing? Come on in, pull up a chair–not so close. Just have a few things to say here–ahem–lessee…

Okay, haha. Let me be clear, Gays. I haven’t come to this decision with haste, or without love. I’m just not that into you this time. Sure, I can go on pretending for another 4 years, but it’s best not to lead you on anymore.

No-no, there’s nothing you need to change. It won’t make any difference. I need to see other people. Yes, I know you will still love me in November. Make no mistake–it’s that loyalty I know I can count on.

But…you see…I need ‘Independent Voters in Swing States’ more right now. Hey-hey there. Don’t be upset. Don’t cry. I hate it when you cry, Gays!

Bottom line: It’s me, not you. I have needs that your small but intensely passionate group cannot fulfill. Just…be there for me. In November. Okay? Still promise? Good. Where’s that smile?

Now get the heck out of here and send ‘Latino Voters’ in.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on April 12, 2012 at 12:37 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on April 12, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Of course Barry is playing it both ways. He knows who he can crap on and still count on their vote. Blacks, gays, and Hispanics immediately come to mind. No worries. It’s not like those groups, as a whole, won’t support him. And he knows it.

GarandFan on April 12, 2012 at 5:25 PM

The Hispanic vote may or may not be in play, depending (at least partly) on who our VP candidate is. I’m not saying we’ll win the majority in that demographic group… but we may be able to make it close.

Mr. Prodigy on April 12, 2012 at 5:55 PM

Iowa University School of Law

My alma mater is the University of Iowa, Tina. :)

Vatican Watcher on April 12, 2012 at 6:57 PM

nice beard you got there, barry…

mittens on April 12, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Obama knows which side of his bread has the most butter.

crosspatch on April 12, 2012 at 5:52 PM

um…..that’s not butter.

Tim_CA on April 12, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Barry’s men friends at Chicago’s ghey bath houses, Reggie Love & Kal Penn are so sorely disappointed they can’t sit down.

Robert Jensen on April 13, 2012 at 6:47 AM

Switch Hitter Hitler?

More better

askwhatif on April 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM

I’ve said it before, and I will keep saying it until I die. Homosexuality, like abortion, is an abject VIOLATION of Natural Order. Anyone who clearly understands “Right and WRONG,” KNOWS THIS TRUTH!?!

Colatteral Damage on April 13, 2012 at 4:19 PM