Capehart to Obama on LGBT Exec Order: Show Leadership. Don’t Punt.

Jonathan Capehart, who is usually a strong defender of the Obama White House, weighs in on the executive order debacle, urging the President not to punt:

And, yet, when Obama recently had the opportunity to show leadership in granting protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, he was the one to punt. There is still time for him to change his mind, but the clock is ticking. 

An executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity had been sitting on the president’s desk since February. But the administration announced earlier this month that no action would be taken on the measure “at this time.” Meanwhile, it is ramping up its efforts to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed by Congress.

Why can’t the president do both as part of a long-term strategy?

That’s the big question? The President can do both. Why won’t the president do both?

Capehart speculates about some of the possible political reasoning behind the White House decision, but doesn’t think that should matter. Leadership does:

Perhaps the president and the reelection team don’t want to do anything that would rile passions on the right and would give the presumptive Republican nominee any possible opening to attack him and his administration. But leadership is about doing the right thing when it is neither easy nor convenient.

Yes, that’s what leadership is. Leadership is not making decisions based on how your opponents might react. Noting time is running out to get the executive order done this year, Capehart urges Obama to show leadership:

A parallel process of signing the executive order while laying the groundwork for passage of ENDA is the way to go. Due to the six-month timeline for writing regulations and public comment, the door on the executive order closes sometime in June if this is to be in place before the end of the term. Until then, Obama has the opportunity to show leadership by signing it. Don’t punt, Mr. President.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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