Executive Order Bans Federal Contractors from Discriminating Against Employees on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama signed an executive order today banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Despite calls from religious leaders, faith-based groups will not be exempt.

“Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — a government of the people, by the people and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer,” Obama said.

Gay federal workers are already protected from workplace discrimination by a Clinton-era order and Obama’s action extended the protections to shield workers from gender identity-based discrimination.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which joined a coalition of nearly 100 civil rights and LGBT groups urging Obama to reject calls for a religious exemption, thanked him for taking action. It said he made the “right call” for not tagging any religious exemptions to the document.

“Faith-based groups that tap the public purse should play by the same rules as everyone else and not expect special treatment,” the group’s executive director, Rev. Barry Lynn, said in a statement. “No forms of discrimination should be supported with the taxpayer dime, period.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was in the room as Obama signed the order and said it was an emotional moment.

“There are now millions of LGBT people and their families who are just going to sleep a little bit easier tonight knowing that they can’t be fired from their jobs as federal contractors,” she said.

During the ceremony, which comes 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Obama also recalled the history of executive actions and legislation to ban discrimination in the workplace and “make sure we the people applies to all the people.”

For more on this important story please click here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/21/politics/obama-lgbt-discrimination-executive-order/

eQuest release date: July 21, 2014  (Originally released July 21, 2014 from CNN.)

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