News

Obama signs order barring federal discrimination against gays

Obama signs order barring federal discrimination against gays

DISCRIMINATION:U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about Ukraine at the White House in Washington, July 21. Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Monday barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The order did not include new exemptions for religious organizations, a move that was welcomed by gay rights activists.

For a long time the White House has resisted issuing such an executive order, preferring instead to push for legislation in Congress that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in workplaces nationwide.

But that legislation stalled in Congress, and advocates pressed Obama to take action to bar such discrimination among federal contractors, who make up about a fifth of the U.S. work force.

“Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming. You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters – I know because I got a lot of them,” Obama said to laughter from a crowd of advocates at the White House.

“And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – of the people, by the people, and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”

In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson signed an order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Obama’s executive order added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories.

Obama urged participants to continue working for anti-discrimination legislation that would apply to all employers.

“Congress has spent 40 years – four decades – considering legislation that would help solve the problem. That’s a long time,” he said.

“But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act. The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Tom Brown)

Recent Headlines

in Sports, Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Marshawn Lynch’s Media Day press conference

Fresh
23-overlay5

The Seattle Seahawks running back has a goal for Media Day ... and he makes sure everyone knows it.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Jan. 28

elvis

A look back at the Hollywood headlines that went down in the history books.

in Viral Videos

School announces snow day with ‘Let It Go’ parody

22-overlay5

Who needs robocalls when you can declare school closures through song?

in Lifestyle

Drunk driving less likely in cities with Uber ride services

Uber West Coast Regional Manager William Barnes sits in the back of a car during a photo shoot Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in Las Vegas. The ride sharing company has begun operations in Nevada.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving works with Uber to establish ride service rights in cities around the world.

in Entertainment

Benedict Cumberbatch apologizes for ‘colored’ remark

Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of "The Imitation Game" at the DGA Theater on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Benedict Cumberbatch is "devastated" after realizing he caused offense during a chat about diversity on Tavis Smiley's late-night show.