President Barack Obama on Monday signed
an executive order barring contractors doing business with the
federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual
orientation and gender identity.
In remarks before signing the order,
Obama chided Congress for not passing the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), workplace legislation which would
apply to all employers, not just federal contractors.
“But I'm going to do what I can with
the authority I have to act,” Obama said. “The rest of you, of
course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal
legislation to resolve this problem once and for all.” (An AP
video report is embedded on this page. Visit
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Notably absent from the order are any
religious exemptions beyond allowing religiously affiliated
contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion with regard
The president had previously rejected
calls to sign the executive order, saying legislation would offer a
broader and more durable solution.
The order also, for the first time,
protects transgender federal employees from discrimination.
Obama announced the addition of
transgender protections during the White House's annual reception
marking LGBT Pride Month.
“I've asked my staff to prepare a
second executive order so that federal employees – who are already
protected on the basis of sexual orientation – will now formally be
protected from discrimination based on gender identity as well,”
Obama said during the East Room celebration.
Tico Almeida, founder and president of
the LGBT organization Freedom to Work, applauded the move.
“President Obama's signature sends a
strong message: Update your workplace policies to protect LGBT
employees or forfeit your highly lucrative taxpayer-funded
contracts,” Almeida said in a statement. “This is a watershed
moment in our country's march toward equality.”
The new policy takes effect in early