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WASHINGTON – President Obama signed an executive order today to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from workplace discrimination during a ceremony at the White House.
The order bars businesses that contract with the federal government from engaging in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also explicitly bans discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity, building upon prior actions by the administration to extend basic fairness and explicit protections to transgender people.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero:
"This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America's workplaces. By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved. While there remains much work still to do to achieve the goal of full civil rights protections for LGBT people, we must take time to celebrate the landmarks along the way, and this is a huge win."
The executive order notably does not include a religious exemption that would have given religiously affiliated government contractors a special license to discriminate using taxpayer dollars against LGBT people. The ACLU recently withdrew its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) over the bill’s religious exemption.