Executive Branch

Obama nixes LGBT discrimination by federal contractors; there is no religious exemption


Resisting pressure to include a religious exemption, President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors based on employees’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American,” Obama told those present, Politico reports.

His order affects some 24,000 companies whose 28 million workers comprise nearly one-fifth of the U.S. labor force, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports. However, most of these companies already offer at least some protection to LGBT employees against such discrimination, and the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimates that the order will extend this protection to another 14 million workers, the Associated Press reports.

In an American Bar Association press release, ABA President James R. Silkenat commended Obama for his action and called upon lawmakers to enact legislation to extend protection from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination not only to all workers but to a broad swath of life activities.

“While the new executive order holds federal contractors to a higher standard and provides additional protections to federal workers, the ABA urges federal, state, local, and territorial governments to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation, in employment, housing and public accommodations,” Silkenat said.

Anti-discrimination rules similar to those adopted in the executive order could have been enacted through the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. However, the federal legislation stalled in Congress after passing in the Senate last year, the Associated Press reports.

A White House press release provides further details.

CNN, Slate, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) also have stories.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS issues second hit to contraceptive mandate; dissenters claim order rewrites Hobby Lobby”

Fox News (opinion): “Obama’s LGBT Executive Order endangers religious liberty”

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