Obama to Sign Executive Order Curbing Anti-Gay Discrimination

This marks another symbolic milestone for gay rights activists.

Posted: 06/17/2014 03:21 PM EDT
Obama to Sign Executive Order Curbing Anti-Gay Discrimination

Marking his most significant gay rights move since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, President Obama’s administration recently revealed his plans to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.

The White House made the announcement earlier this week following the president’s previous unsuccessful efforts at passing the law through Congress.

Frequently referred to as an executive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), the order could protect up to 16 million workers from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, according to a report from Williams Institute at the University of California of Los Angeles. No federal law bans discrimination against gay and transgender individuals, so this protection would be the single largest expansion of LGBT workplace protections in U.S. history.

Currently 29 states allow employees to fire, demote or otherwise be prejudice against workers solely based on their sexual orientation.

Once the order is finalized, which is expected in the coming weeks, President Obama’s administration will be joining the ranks of past presidents, like President Lyndon B. Johnson, who forbid companies in business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of race.

"By issuing an executive order," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, "the president will not only create fairer workplaces across the country, he will demonstrate to Congress that adopting federal employment protections for [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people is good policy and good for business.”

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