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President Barack Obama will sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a White House official said on Monday, handing another victory to gay rights activists.

The White House has been pressing Congress to pass legislation to ban employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and has resisted issuing an executive order in favor of pursuing a broader, legislative solution.

But Obama has spent the year taking executive action on a host of other domestic priorities where Congress has failed to make legislative headway, and activists have pressed him to do the same on the issue of gay rights.

“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,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


Since coming into office, Obama helped end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military and, after what he described as an evolution in his thinking, gave backing to gay marriage during his 2012 re-election campaign.

Pursuing the executive order is a shift for the White House, which has said since last year that such a move would carry far less weight than broader congressional action. 

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate  but has languished in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives

An order barring discrimination by federal contractors would apply to about 20 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign

It would make it illegal for companies with U.S. government contracts to fire or avoid hiring employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as it now is with race. Federal protections are necessary because state laws vary, activists say. The White House official declined to say when Obama would sign the order. Obama returns to Washington on Monday after a weekend get-away in California.

“The president’s intentions are clear,” the official said. 

The new move may energize gays and young people, two constituency groups that make up an important part of Obama’s political base, ahead of congressional elections in November that could shift control of the Senate to Republicans

Obama has been fundraising for Democrats and urging voters to show up at the polls in November for the midterm election, which typically sees lower turn out than in years with presidential races. A Republican-controlled Congress would make it more difficult for the president to pass any of his legislative agenda during his final two years in office.

The order could increase pressure on the White House to take executive action on immigration. Similar to the non-discrimination order, Obama has resisted such a move while holding out hope that the House would advance broad legislation. 

 

SOURCE: REUTERS

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  • BrowneWives

    Too little too late. What about black unemployment? He can’t seem to do anything about that.

    • Objection

      I’m so happy I never voted for this guy.

    • Me

      what’s to be happy about? he’s still your president. voting for mccain & romney didn’t help the situation at all.

    • Objection

      I have a lot to be happy about. I’m happy my financial situation was never depended on Obama, McCain, or Romney. African-Americans financial freedom is not depended on a president. Our financial freedom is depended on our own abilities.

      “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.”

      – Marcus Garvey

    • Me

      if your situation don’t depend on obama one way or the other than what difference does it make if you voted for him? you said you happy you didn’t vote for him… why? how did not voting for him help things especially if he still got elected twice anyway?

    • Objection

      It makes a lot of difference. Presidents are allowed to do immoral things because the American people voted them into office. I’m happy to know I had no part in Obama becoming president. More than likely, I will never vote again. Most politicians are liars and thieves. My hands are clean.

    • vintagesouleclectic

      I agree….nothing has changed for black people…black problems still exist…nothing has improved…gay issues have been improved…our education is still sub par..crime is at an all time high..we don’t own anything…completely a people that don’t produce anything…only consumers

    • Brad

      Well I am happy he beat yall asses in the polls twice, making yall two time loosers..

  • Shiva Amina

    To each their own…but aside from those who seek/complete some type of gender reassignment in their lives…what does your sexual orientation have anything to do with your job? As a black woman I don’t have the liberty to get up in the morning and decide whether or not being ‘open’ about my blackness is beneficial to me that day or not. Who you like to have sex/sleep/date/marry should not have anything to do with your job…especially working for the government.

    I see where he is trying to go with this, but as BrownWives said…what about black unemployment or simply unemployment in general? If I was of a different sexual or gender orientation I’d have all the backing in the world right now….but because I’m sexually/gender the average my needs and the needs of my community as a whole are on the back-burner?