WASHINGTON — Moments after the Senate passed a historic measure to outlaw workplace discrimination against gays, activists turned their attention toward President Barack Obama and a long-sought executive order that would have the same effect, though on a much smaller scale.

The quick shift underscores the reality that the bill is unlikely to ever reach Obama's desk. While the anti-discrimination measure passed comfortably in the Senate, it may never get a vote in the House, given Speaker John Boehner's opposition.

But gay rights groups and the White House appear to have differing views of the opportunities presented by that political landscape.

While activists take Boehner's opposition as a sign Obama should act on his own, White House officials see an opportunity to cast Republicans as outside the mainstream on gay rights.