Obama Set to Order Expanding Gay Rights for Contractors

President Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgendered employees, a White House spokesman said.

Deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn’t provide any information on when Obama may sign the order or when it would take effect, saying only that the president has directed staff to make preparations for an order barring workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification.

Gay-rights groups have been pressing for anti-discrimination protection in employment since Obama took office in 2009. While the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate last year passed a measure that would make such discrimination illegal, the House, where Republicans hold the majority, hasn’t taken up the legislation.

Obama has for months resisted calls from gay-rights advocates and some Democratic lawmakers to use executive authority, saying legislation is the only way to gain a law that applies to all Americans.

“The door for legislative action remains open,” Earnest today told reporters traveling with the president back to Washington from a weekend trip to California.

Fundraiser Planned

Obama is scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with the gay community tomorrow night in New York. Earnest said the order hasn’t been signed because document isn’t ready.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an advocacy group, applauded the move as “a major step forward in the struggle for freedom and justice for LGBT workers and their families.”

“Now millions of people will have the economic security they need to provide for their families,” Carey said. “Unfortunately, many of us who don’t work for federal contractors will still lack workplace protections. Now we must redouble our efforts for the urgent passage of state employment protections and strong federal legislation.”

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