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Obama Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Americans from Workplace Discrimination

With no religious exemption, the order bans discrimination by businesses with federal contracts and protects LGBT federal employees.

During a White House ceremony on Monday, President Obama signed an executive order to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

The order prohibits businesses with federal government contracts from engaging in discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. It also protects transgender federal employees from discrimination based on their gender identity. To achieve this, President Obama amended an earlier order issued by President Clinton banning sexual orientation discrimination against federal employees.

With his signature, President Obama has now protected 14 million more American workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This historic executive order does not include a religious exemption that would have granted religiously affiliated government contractors a "license to discriminate" against LGBT Americans while using taxpayer dollars. The ACLU, NCLR, Lambda Legal and many other LGBT advocacy groups have withdrawn support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because of a religious exemption in the Senate-approved bill. 

"This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America's workplaces,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved. While there remains much work still to do to achieve the goal of full civil rights protections for LGBT people, we must take time to celebrate the landmarks along the way, and this is a huge win.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin also praised Obama, stating: “With this action, President Obama has cemented his legacy as a transformative leader. Consistently, this administration has taken unprecedented and historic executive actions to advance LGBT equality in this country and around the world." Because HRC still supports ENDA, Griffin added: "The focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where [ENDA] must be brought to a vote by the House leadership. A bipartisan coalition of Americans is standing behind LGBT equality, a bipartisan coalition of our elected leaders should be doing the same.”

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