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Obama agenda: LGBT groups disappointed Obama won't sign exec. order

Gay advocacy groups say they are deeply disappointed by President Obama’s decision to delay signing an executive order that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in the workplace, NBC's Kristen Welker and Ali Weinberg report. The executive order would ban workplace discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation.

The White House disclosed the news during a Wednesday meeting between senior administration officials and several LGBT advocacy groups and left-leaning think thanks including the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, and the National Gay and the Lesbian Task Force. Those who attended the meeting told NBC News that some of the President’s top advisers including Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz were in attendance.

A senior administration official says, per Welker and Weinberg, that while the president will not sign the executive order this year, the White House will conduct a study of workplace discrimination against LGBT employees with the expectation of gaining further understanding of the issue and possibly more support for the executive order.

Winnie Stachelberg, the executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress acknowledged the “good work that has been done” by the administration but expressed frustration. “Today’s news that the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors will launch a study to better understand workplace discrimination against gay and transgender Americans is confounding and disappointing,” she said in a statement.

Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, had a similar response: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president.”

But Heather Cronk from LGBT rights group “GetEqual” was more critical. “For those who are looking for support from an Obama White House, this should send chills up their spine.” Cronk said the move was nothing more than election-year-politics. “The president is campaigning on a slogan of we can’t wait, but he’s asking LGBT families to give him his job, but to wait on their job protection. It’s unclear what Obama feels like we can’t wait for.” 

A White House official pushed back saying the move had nothing to do with politics and pointed to the fact that the administration conducted a study before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" was repealed. The administration has also expressed its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which requires Congressional approval. The legislation would prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said in a statement: “The president is committed to lasting and comprehensive change and therefore our goal is passage of ENDA, which is a legislative solution to LGBT employment discrimination – just as the president pressed for legislative repeal of [Don't Ask, Don't Tell].”

In other news....

The Obama campaign today is trying to push the anniversary of “Romneycare” with a tough video, quoting people who helped him create the law and with footage of him from the signing day on top of a podium on a stage with Romney saying, “This is a politician’s dream, you’ve got to admit.”

The Wall Street Journal: “Romney Faces Heat on Birthday of Massachusetts Health Law.” The state’s Democratic governor on Wednesday celebrated the sixth birthday of the Massachusetts health-care law — and took some jabs at its creator, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney. The ceremony at historic Faneuil Hall was in the spot where Mr. Romney signed the legislation into law in April 2006 when he was governor of the state. He has promised to repeal the national version of the legislation. ‘I think he has a lot to be proud of, he contributed ideas, the individual mandate was one of them…why not be proud?’ said Gov. Deval Patrick, a co-chair of President Barack Obama’s national re-election committee.”