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Report from LGBT Fundraiser: Low Expectations for Action Soon on Non-Discrimination Exec. Order

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John posted the President's remarks from last night's high dollar fundraiser. But as the pool reporter noted, "Pool was ushered out after 14 minutes, while the president prepared to do a Q&A." That part was off-the-record.

Fortunately, Metro Weekly's Chris Geidner waited outside of the event to talk to some of the attendees about what happened. For the most part, he heard the usual talking points. I mean, how could people who donate over $35,000 to the reelection be expected to ask hard questions? They're just honored to be at the swanky event.

But, there was some disturbing comments about the prospects for the Executive Order on non-discrimination for federal contractors:

That said, Gill also was still looking at this term, talking with Metro Weekly about the chances that Obama would sign an executive order in his first term that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Noting that the Republican-led House is almost certain not to bring up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- which would prohibit most private employers from discriminating on those bases -- in this Congress, Gill said of the proposed executive order, "I think certainly we need that order, lacking ENDA. Whether we'll manage to get that before the election, that seems a little dicey, but I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed."

Elizabeth Birch, the former head of the Human Rights Campaign, was even less certain. She told Metro Weekly bluntly, "I don't know if it will happen. I would imagine that there's not a lot that's going to happen until after the election."

What's more, she suggested that it mightn't even be the most strategic move, saying, "Executive orders are great, but they can have wobbly legs. I want us to be able to marshal all of our energy and focus and resources, and get real laws passed."

Of Obama's judgment on selecting the time for action, she added, "He has a really good meter in terms of knowing when he has amassed enough political capital to get the best, most durable thing done."

Terry Bean, an Oregonian who is one of the co-founders of HRC and was leaving the fundraiser with Birch, agreed, saying, "I prefer, as the president seems to, long-term solutions rather than temporary solutions. If the president had done what some in the community wanted him to do, which was a stop-loss order on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' it never would have passed Congress."

Another notable HRC board member, Bruce Bastian -- the Utah resident who spent $1 million to fight Proposition 8 -- said the final call on the executive order proposal was with Obama: "That's on his desk."
So, according to Bastian, the order is on Obama's desk. But, Bean and Birch said don't expect it. Bastian, Bean and Birch have close ties to HRC.

Now, Birch's assertion that an executive order isn't a strategic move is stunning. The President would be setting a standard for the country that we could eventually achieve through legislation. It would protect LGBT workers. And, there's a long history of executive orders leading to legislation. FDR issued executive orders on non-discrimination in the government back in the 40s, which were the basis of the civil rights act. And, we all want a long-term solution, but passage of ENDA isn't happening any time soon.

The President has spent the last few months telling us "We can't wait' while using his executive authority to make needed changes. Sounds like Bean and Birch are telling the White House, don't worry, we'll wait. I hope the President's team don't think those two speak for the community. Many people, the kind of people who can't drop $35,800 for a fundraiser, can't wait. They could use the protection.

I guess we have to keep our "fingers crossed."

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