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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is getting heat from the Human Rights Campaign on April 3. / Carolyn Kaster AP

WASHINGTON - One of the country's most prominent gay rights groups is criticizing the White House after President Obama's chief spokesman said that an executive order barring discrimination against federal contractors would be "redundant" if Congress passes a White House-supported Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The Human Rights Campaign lashed out against the White House on Friday after White House press secretary Jay Carney a day earlier seemed to suggest that the executive order being advocated for by the LGBT community was unnecessary. ENDA has passed the Senate but is stalled in the GOP-led House

"I think if the law passed -- now, I'm not a lawyerâ?¦ I haven't read every sentence of the law, but I think if the law passed that broadly banned this kind of employment discrimination, it would make redundant an executive order," Carney said.

But the Human Rights Campaign says ENDA would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and the executive order is still necessary.

"We couldn't disagree more," the group said in a statement. " An executive order first issued by President Johnson still, today, provides important and unique protections for employees of federal contractors against discrimination based on race, sex, religion -- despite the fact that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against such discrimination in workplaces across the country. Even if ENDA were to pass tomorrow, we'd still need the president to sign the executive order in order to ensure that those same protections exist for LGBT workers."

On Friday, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest underscored the administration's support for ENDA.

"The fact of the matter is our position on legislation that would codify into the law that individuals can't be discriminated against at work just because of who they love - we strongly support that legislation," Earnest said. "We urge Congress to pass that legislation, and that is what our position is."

The Human Rights Campaign is generally supportive of Obama's policies. But the group's president, Chad Griffin, expressed frustration with Obama earlier this year when the president did not include a push for ENDA in his State of the Union Address.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

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