On Monday, President Obama plans to sign an executive order to ban job discrimination based on both gender and sexual orientation among federal workers and contractors, TIME reports. The order protects some 28 million workers and does not exclude religious organizations.
“At a critical time for our nation’s economy, we need all of our workers to be focused on making the most of their talent, skill, and ingenuity, rather than worrying about losing their job due to discrimination,” says a White House official. “Discrimination is not just wrong, it also can keep qualified workers from maximizing their potential to contribute to the strengthening of our economy.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruled on the Hobby Lobby decision, a handful of faith leaders, including Pastor Rick Warren, wrote President Obama asking for exemption. Other religious leaders wrote and said an exemption would only open a “Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination.”
The executive order does not, however, add exemptions for religious groups beyond George W. Bush’s 2002 order, which allowed religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a certain religion when hiring. Those organizations are still allowed to make employment decisions about their ministers as they see fit under the First Amendment.