At the White House Pride Month Reception Thursday night, President Obama recommitted his support to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and other protections for LGBT people. Still, he continued to encourage activists to continue to push him and others toward complete equality for all people:
OBAMA: And as we saw earlier this year with the gun safety debate, sometimes this stuff takes time, and it’s frustrating. You take two steps forward and sometimes there’s a step back. But I deeply believe in something that Martin Luther King, Jr. said often, and that is that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Eventually, America gets it right.
Now that doesn’t mean we can be patient. We know from our own history that change happens because people push to make it happen. We’ve got to do the hard work of educating others, showing empathy to others, changing hearts and minds. And when we do that, then change occurs. It doesn’t come always as quickly as we like, but progress comes.
Watch his entire address:
Obama noticeably did not mention the executive order that he could sign right now to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination, including many small businesses that would not be covered by ENDA. In fact, the White House has taken to describing such an order as “hypothetical,” despite understandings that it had been drafted and simply delayed well over a year ago. During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to sign this executive order, and aside from championing ENDA — which is unlikely to pass a Republican-controlled House — the White House has offered no explanation for ignoring this simple fix that could protect 16 million people. Democratic National Committee treasurer Andy Tobias has confirmed there continues to be a “process” underway, but has not revealed any of the specifics that explain the delay.