For gay advocates, the frustration that followed the State of the Union was compounded by the fact that the president announced a minimum-wage executive order that in many ways mirrored the action they are seeking. The order raises the minimum hourly pay for new federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10.
Obama cast the move as an opportunity to make at least some progress on the issue while he pushes Congress to pass legislation extending the minimum to all workers.
Gay rights proponents have asked Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. At the same time, they want Congress to pass the broader Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has the backing of the White House. That measure passed the Senate last year but is stalled in the Republican-led House.
Heather Cronk, co-director of the organizations GetEqual, said Obama’s declining to sign the executive order means he is “actively choosing to permit discrimination against LGBT workers.”
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the executive actions the president outlined in Tuesday night’s address were not an exhaustive list of his plans for this year. But Carney also cautioned that he was not implying there would be any future action on the LGBT order.
While leading gay rights supporters were largely united in their reactions following the State of the Union, the view among immigration advocates was more fractured.
Some of those seeking an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws fear that unilateral action by the president would upend the fragile legislative maneuvering on Capitol Hill. A Senate-approved bill is languishing in the House, but GOP leaders are currently working on another set of immigration principles to secure the national border and extend legal status to many of the estimated 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.