President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government.
The executive order has two parts: It 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. The part targeting federal contractors affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.
“America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” Obama said during remarks at the White House just before signing the order. “I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act.”