President Barack Obama will sign a an executive order that will extend LGBT non-discrimination protections to employees of federal contractors, reports the Associated Press, civil rights organizations and sources within the Administration.
The move follows years of pressure from gay rights groups for Obama to act on his own while a broader employment non-discrimination measure languishes on Capitol Hill. ... Obama has used this tactic before, signing executive orders that raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and expanding the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime pay. White House officials have cast the approach as part of the president's effort to work around a Congress that continues to be mired in gridlock.
But those moves increased the frustration among gay rights supporters who have long pressed Obama to extend workplace discrimination protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals working for federal contractors. The White House publicly offered little explanation as to why the president moved forward on the wage-related orders but not the anti-discrimination measure.
The announcement comes on the eve of the President's annual LGBT fundraising gala in New York City.
There currently are is no federal legislation that bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November 2013 on a 64-32 vote. All Senate Democrats voted for its approval except Pennsylvania's Bob Casey. Ten Republicans also supported the bill.
The legislation has stalled in the Republican-led House. Majority Leader John Boehner has said there will not be a vote despite overwhelmingly support among the Democratic caucus.
ENDA passed the Democratic-controlled House in November 2007 but did not include transgender protections.
Some civil rights and LGBT groups have criticized the currently-worded ENDA for "terribly broad religious exemption[s] [that] would extend beyond churches and other houses of worship to any religiously affiliated institution, like hospitals and universities, and would allow those institutions to discriminate against people," noted the New York Times.
It is currently legal to fire people because of their sexual orientation in 29 states. It is legal to fire people for their gender identity in 32 states.