Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has signed an executive order that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Ohio city, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The updated policy bans employment discrimination by city agencies and companies that do business with the city.

Plusquellic, the city's longest-serving mayor, signed the order on July 1, but copies of the policy were distributed to employees for the first time on Friday and the policy was posted on the city's website.

Says Edward “Chip” Clupper, who heads the gay and lesbian rights group Stonewall Democrats of Summit County: “This is good business for government.”

“It protects city workers … If you don't have it, people are scared of losing their jobs” he added.

The executive order will expire at the end of the Plusquellic administration in 2011. The Stonewall Democrats said they are hoping the protections will eventually be made into law.

“It's difficult right now with the economy,” Clupper told the paper. “This is not the first issue with anyone in charge. But we hope to move ahead with better protection. We want an ordinance.”

It was unclear whether city council members supported making the policy permanent.

Ohio lawmakers are reviewing a gay protections bill in the Capitol that would add similar protections on a statewide level.