The Washington Post

Obama can’t keep dodging on gay rights measure

The pressure on Obama and the White House to reverse their craven decision not to go foward with the executive order barring federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation is about to get a good deal more intense.

You may recall that during the battle over don’t ask don’t tell, a gay rights group called GetEQUAL got lots of press coverage for its civil disobedience against the White House over the issue. Images of activists chained to the White House fence or getting taken away in handcuffs gained wide circulation.

Now the group is about to launch a similar campaign against the Obama campaign over the executive order, which has been a priority for gay advocates ever since Obama took office.

GetEQUAL’s managing director, Heather Cronk, tells me that in the next few weeks, the group will start staging actions against Obama For America offices throughout the country. The actions will begin with small gestures and will escalate over time.

“We’ll certainly be doing potentially arrestable actions at the White House,” Cronk tells me, confirming that the group has raised money in the six figures from gay donors to finance the actions.

As David Dayen noted yesterday, GetEQUAL has already proven, via its activism on don’t ask don’t tell, that it has the capacity to create a headache for the Obama campaign. The next question is whether major gay donors will start withholding funds in protest, which is not outside the realm of possibility.

The White House has insisted that it decided against the executive order so it can push for a larger legislative solution known as the Employment Non-Descrimination Act, which would bar the vast majority of private-sector employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But as the Post points out today in an editorial hammering the White House for caving on the executive order, that legislative solution has little chance of passing Congress. And there’s nothing stopping the White House from moving forward on both tracks in any case.

If the White House decided to punt on the executive order to avoid taking political heat from social conservatives, as some have alleged, then it may have just traded that in exchange for a political headache on the left that may not be going away anytime soon.

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