Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Earlier this week, President Obama announced an executive order prohibiting federal contract workers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The use of an executive order to enforce a policy that does not actually exist is extraordinary enough, but the President says he was fed up waiting for Congress to act:

"The president has resisted signing the order in hopes Congress would pass a broader non-discrimination measure that would apply to nearly all employers. While the Senate passed the legislation last year, the measure has languished in the Republican-led House and there is little sign that lawmakers will take it up in an election year.

"We've been waiting for quite a few months now for the House to take action and unfortunately there are no particularly strong indications that Congress is prepared to act on this," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said."

You have to feel a strange admiration for this administration, which doesn’t allow even lack of Congressional support get in the way of enforcing its ideology. This executive order is the closest that LGBT activists have gotten to a federal law protecting sexual orientation similarly to race or sex. Twenty states and Washington DC have such laws. The majority of the holdouts are in the central and southeastern part of the US, which means that new laws/executive orders will target southern, rural states that have religious and socially conservative electorates.

While considering this I was reminded of Atherton high school’s new transgender policy. In that discussion I raised the question of how could such a policy work to the benefit of the school when it necessarily has to bend to the changing sexual expressions of students . The same issue is present when you talk about jobs instead of schools. To expect employers to run effective workplaces when they are required to hire against their religious conscience is dubious enough, but the malleable nature of sexual orientation and gender identity makes the administrative burden alone intolerable.

What if a transgendered man applies for a job at a women’s center, working with female patients in counseling or an even more intimate role? On what basis could anyone object to the arrangement? Like I said in the Atherton piece, this logic requires that you ignore the concerns of those in the workplace (supposedly since they’re bigots) and scrap objective workplace standards (like gender segregated restrooms/jobs) in favor of those that shift alongside the tide of sexual autonomy.

The President has proven once again that when it comes to moral issues, his administration is without a compass.