President Barack Obama will on Monday sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a senior administration official said Friday.
The action, which amends two existing executive orders, will also formally prohibit discrimination against federal workers on the basis of gender identity.
With Congress unable thus far to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – which would apply to most employers nationwide – LGBT activists had for years been calling on the president to take action where he could, and to sign an executive order opposing discrimination at the 24,000 companies employing 28 million workers who have government contracts. But it does not have an exemption for religious employers — something that religious groups had asked the White House to include in the measure.
Not having a law in place that protects LGBT workers “is both contrary to our values as Americans and, importantly, bad for business,” the senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters announcing the president’s intention to take action on Monday.