President Obama signed an executive order Monday banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by federal contractors.
The executive order makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it explicitly bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government. Over 20,000 companies and about 28 million workers (one-fifth of the nation’s workforce) will be impacted.
Many LGBT advocates were relieved that the president did not include a sweeping religious exemption in the executive order. It was something the community feared could happen after last month’s Hobby Lobby ruling, where the Supreme Court decided that companies with religious objections cannot be forced to provide coverage for certain contraception or abortion-inducing drugs.