Obama Signs Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination in Federal Contracts


On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order, promised a month ago, that will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” Obama said before signing the order. “I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act.”

The administration had been waiting to see if Congress would pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), but it has stalled in the House after passing the Senate with a bipartisan supermajority.

The executive order will amend two earlier orders, one signed by Lyndon Johnson that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on race, sex, color, religion, or national origin, and another by Richard Nixon that extends such protections to government employees.

Obama did not bow to pressure from religious leaders to include a broad religious exemption, which ENDA did contain. In the wake of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision that granted religious freedoms to corporations, LGBT groups had revoked their support for ENDA because they feared it could be used broadly to discriminate if an employer of a for-profit corporation has religious objections to homosexuality.

The president let stand language added to Johnson’s order by George W. Bush in 2002, which allows religiously affiliated federal contractors to favor members of their own faith in hiring decisions.

The act will affect about 30,000 companies employing 28 million people, or one-fifth of the U.S. work force.

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  • lady_black

    Good.

  • fiona64

    Nice to see some good news today.

  • Shan

    This is great, but how is it that women can’t get the same sort of executive order regarding contraceptive coverage on their health plans?

    THANKS, OBAMA!!!

    • lady_black

      Don’t need one. Executive orders are binding only on the executive branch. Government provided health insurance already complies with the ACA.

      • Shan

        Yes, I was just in a snarky mood.

    • BelligerentBruncher

      Because contraception has zilch to do with civil rights.

      • Shan

        Actually it does. Start with reading Griswold v Connecticut.

  • fiona64

    Of course, the bigots at NOM and FRC have wasted no time in condemning this important decision, which stops the use of tax dollars paying for discrimination.

  • crash2parties

    Obama did not bow to pressure from religious leaders to include a broad religious exemption, which ENDA did contain.[...] The president let stand language added to Johnson’s order by George W.
    Bush in 2002, which allows religiously affiliated federal contractors to
    favor members of their own faith in hiring decisions.

    After Hobby Lobby, that’s actually a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. Keep in mind that based on Justice Alito’s reasoning, the owners of the corporations need only proclaim with “sincere belief” that a gay person cannot be a True Christian for it to considered truth. And therefore can discriminate at will.

    Being such a highly proclaimed legal scholar, President Obama had to realize this.