President Obama on Monday signed an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees of the federal government and its contracting agencies.
The executive order makes it illegal to terminate or harass an employee based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity and it bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government and its contracting.
This new law is set to affect more than 24,000 corporations and 28 million workers, or around a fifth of the nation’s total workforce, the Huffington Post reported.
The rule affecting the federal government will take effect immediately while those concerning federal contractors will take effect by next year.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”President Obama”]
America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people. I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act.
“It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do but because of who they are,” he added. “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”
Obama did not add a sweeping religious exemption in the order unlike what happened in the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case. The latter permitted some religiously-inclined businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to employees at no extra charge–something that the LGBT community feared that could happen.
However, he merely added the gender identity and sexual orientation classifications to the two existing executive orders: the first was of President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on race, religion, gender or nationality in hiring.
This was later on amended by President George W. Bush in 2002 to add the exemption for religious groups, Fox News reported.