President Barack Obama is planning on signing an executive order to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from workplace discrimination, the White House told TPM on Monday.
His move comes after the House has nixed the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar most employers from discriminating on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, the President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” a White House official said. “The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This is consistent with the President’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect.”
The official reiterated his support for ENDA, which passed the Senate in November, and criticized the Republican-led House for declining to bring it up. In February, the president took similar action on a minimum wage hike after it stalled in Congress, raising it to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors, the small portion of the economy that is directly under his control.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the sponsor of ENDA, said, “With this announcement, the arc of history bends a little farther toward justice. Discrimination simply has no place in American workplaces.”