Obama executive omissions leave some allies angry

Advocates for gay rights, immigration reform want president to go around Congress on their issues the way he has with others
Associated Press
Jan 30, 2014

For some White House allies, the long list of executive actions President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address was marred by a few glaring omissions.

Gay rights advocates are seething over Obama's refusal to grant employment discrimination protections to gays and lesbians working for federal contractors, safeguards they have been seeking for years. And some immigration overhaul supporters were disappointed that he did not act on his own to halt deportations, which have soared during his presidency and angered many Hispanics.

On both issues, White House officials say the place for action is in Congress, where successful legislation would be far more sweeping than the steps the president could take by himself. But work on an employment non-discrimination bill and an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws is stalled on Capitol Hill, leaving advocates perplexed as to why their calls for executive action did not fit into Obama's vow to act "whenever and wherever" Congress will not.

"In the absence of congressional action, an executive order that prohibits discrimination by contractors is a tailor-made solution to the president's expressed aims," said Fred Sainz, vice president of Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay advocacy organization. Sainz said his frustration with the White House's inaction on the issue was "growing by the day."

Ben Monterroso, executive director of the immigration organization Mi Familia Vota, said: "The president said he is going to use executive orders to act where Congress fails, and we expect him to do the same with immigration reform."

The criticism is particularly striking given that it is coming from two constituencies that have reliably supported the president. More than 70 percent of Hispanic voters backed Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and the gay community has consistently praised him for his unprecedented support.

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.

But other immigration backers say there is more that Obama can — and should — do immediately, regardless of what's happening on Capitol Hill. Their demands center in particular on deportations, which has hit about 400,000 annually during Obama's presidency, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In 2012, Obama suspended deportations of some of the "Dreamers" — immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Advocates, as well as some Democratic lawmakers, want the president to expand that order to cover those children's parents and other immigrant groups.

Lorella Praeli, advocacy and policy director for the group United We Dream, welcomed Obama's renewed call in the State of the Union for passing comprehensive legislation, but she still singled out the president's resistance to take executive action to end more deportations.

"While he's willing to take action singlehandedly on other political issues, he so far refuses to stop deporting people who would be granted legal status and a chance for citizenship under legislation he champions," Praeli said in a statement.

The White House argues that not only would such unilateral action destabilize the debate on Capitol Hill but it also could be difficult to legally defend.

Comments

There you go again

Oh no, you mean Obama has disappointed another group (or two) with his broken promises? Say it ain't so!!!

thinkagain

Homosexuality is learned and can be unlearned, it simply is a choice.

Race and gender are not optional lifestyles, unlike homosexuality.

deertracker

I disagree! Certain sexual behaviors are learned but I don't think preference is learned. I choose to be heterosexual because I prefer women. That's just the way I was born. Race can be manipulated by who you choose to procreate with but gender is what it is.

Dr. Information

so deer, what about the person who was married, has children of her own, then later divorces for another woman? Oh let me guess, gay evolution?

deertracker

I can only speculate but perhaps due to the fact that being gay was/is unacceptable, she chose a life that was more socially acceptable until she could no longer live that lie!

coasterfan

Thinkagain: Republican ideology is learned and can be unlearned. It is simply a choice.

In the case of gay issues, it simply requires that the Republican cast off 1950's era misunderstandings about the causes of homosexuality, and to acknowledge everything we've learned on the topic through the 40 years of scientific study since that time.

Once you actually KNOW the science, you'll realize that homosexuality is not a choice, not an optional lifestyle. It used to be thought that the world was flat, until science proved otherwise. With regard to gay issues, thinkagain is a member of the Flat Earth Society.

Darwin's choice

You're a gay, fathead, democrat cheerleader. But it was an aquired stupidity.
And with all the blowing you're doing to obama, you should know about being gay.....

Darwin's choice

Isn't Larry Davis jealous of you?

rbenn

If gay men don't like women, then why are they attracted to men that act like women?

JudgeMeNot

LOL.

Dr. Information

rbenn, Ive always asked that question and never got a response. Lesbians cannot actually have intercourse with any private parts. So if they have to buy the fake goods to strap on, why not go for the real thing? If they are concerned about boobs, I see many men out there that have man boobs. Same goes with a man. A man cannot have sexual intercourse with another man. Men have no respective counterpart. An anus is for exit only, its to go poop with and thats it. It makes no sense at all and futures the discussion that being gay is more of a choice than something you are born with. I think to many men and women are shot down in life that they turn the other way fearing the past and seeing if liking the same sex is easier.

IslandDweller

This is a ridiculous discussion. Homosexuality is NOT learned and it's NOT a choice. I know science is lost on Republicans, but pick up some books and learn something. Better yet, go talk to some gay people. It's not something they choose. In fact, many of them even tried to live heterosexual lives in order to "fit in," which only led to depression and even physical ailments.

mimi's word

Think Again-So by your statement it could be surmised you learned how to be heterosexual and that could be un learned as well than correct?

44846GWP

Put your horns back in your head, bigot.

ladydye_5

Well you could say RACE is a choice also. If you CHOOSE your partner(of a different race) you could technically CHOOSE the race of your offspring. THINKABOUT THAT!


This should really P*$ $ some people off.

Dr. Information

There he goes again. Stomping over the constitution and congress to push his agenda. A real leader we have here (insert MAJOR sarcasm).

coasterfan

You shouldn't have a problem with it, considering the most recent Republican president completely stomped on the Constitution with his Patriot Act. You are aware that all of the current NSA spying is the direct result of The Patriot Act's 180 degree shift in 200+ years of how we interpreted the 4th Amendment, correct? I chuckle that some conservatives actually blame Obama for something Bush did (they seem to have a penchant for that, don't they?)

Darwin's choice

Troll! People are fed up with the crap you continue to spew! Your boy king is a failure, you can't un-ring the stupid bell your clanging.

rbenn

You really need to look who penned the pre cursor to the patriot act, Mr Joe Biden it was called the omnibus anti terrorism act so dems had a hand in it.

KnuckleDragger

Umm, the patriot act was a legislative act, voted for and passed by Congress. It did not originate from an executive order. Go back to school coaster you need to brush up a little.

JudgeMeNot

toaster likes to spin the facts.

Dr. Information

coaster owned yet again. Can you seriously be any more unintelligent coaster?

grumpy

Re: "
You shouldn't have a problem with it, considering the most recent Republican president completely stomped on the Constitution with his Patriot Act. You are aware that all of the current NSA spying is the direct result of The Patriot Act's 180 degree shift in 200+ years of how we interpreted the 4th Amendment, correct? I chuckle that some conservatives actually blame Obama for something Bush "

I assume you know that the patriot act was reauthorized by a majority dim senate and signedto extend in 2011. The NDAA was also enlarged and extended several times under obama thus further eroding 4th amendment rights.

I chuckle when some progressives actually blame bush for expanding and extending these powers of gov't when ignoring obama for doing the same thing. Does someone else doing a stupid thing make it OK for the next guy to do the same and even expand and extend the stupid thing? As long as they can point and say he did the stupid thing first and we have no choice but to continue to do the stupid thing. I guess when you are shown it is stupid, you feel it should be continued. This is what passes for being smart in a progressive mind. Thanks for being an example of progressive thought process. You even brag about it. How enlightened of you to laugh at extending and expanding stupidity under obama. Is this part of that hopey changey thing you voted for?

The Big Dog's back

pooh, deflect, deflect, deflect. Don't you get tired of that?

grumpy

First he says the the patriot act is stupid and that bush was a fool for getting it passed and signing it. Then he says how smart obama is. Obama expanded and extended it's life as it was written to have an end date. Obama and congress passed and extended the same patriot act, while expanding what and who can be eavesdropped on. In what way is doing so not more stupid than doing it in the first place?

It is worse when you know it was wrong and you vote for it to be strengthened and extended for more years. Yet you want to claim it is bush's fault for making obama and congress pass and expand it. It was bush's fault up till obama and congress passed it the second time. Then it became obama's baby. He could have stopped it, the dims in the Senate could have stopped it and the repubes in the House could have stopped it and been hero's. What did they do? They passed it and obama signed it. They did the same thing bush did, the stupid thing. Obama seems to like many of the same things bush did. Most of those things were the wrong things. Obama the third bush.

Donegan

Didn't you vote for change? For normal people with a brain "He did it first" Is not a valid excuse. I blame Obama for the continued policies which no one liked when Bush wrote them in, You obviously like these policies. Tell us why you do not like Bush again?

The Big Dog's back

You didn't make any noise when the white guy bush did all those things and more.

Donegan

Always with the race thing. Yes i opposed Bush when he was in office, He pushed tons of bad legislation that hurt civil rights. You must have approved of them because you defend the guy who keeps renewing them. Or is that because he is a black guy?

PirateBacker1975

I'd really like to know just what parts of the Constitution he is stomping all over. If he was, I'm sure the Republicans would take it right up to the Supreme Court (which they have tried already!). Face facts, you're wrong and you're in the minority.

By the way, this president has used executive order less than any president in the last 150 years. Another fact that I'm sure you're not hearing on Faux News.

JudgeMeNot

So does that fact prove he is not a failure?

Pages