President George W. Bush had amended Johnson’s order in 2002 to allow religious groups to hire and fire based upon religious identity. Churches also are able to hire ministers as they see fit. The senior administration officials said Obama will not change those exemptions.
The second order Obama will amend was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 to prevent discrimination against federal workers based on race, religion, gender, nationality, age or disability. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation, and Obama will include gender identity in a change to immediately take effect.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “With two strokes of a pen, the President will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country.”
The administration officials said the change for federal contracting will impact some 24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce.
Article continues belowMany large federal contractors already have employment policies barring anti-gay workplace discrimination, as do 21 states. However, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimates that the executive order would extend protections to about 14 million workers whose employers or states currently do not have such nondiscrimination policies.
While few religious organizations are among the biggest federal contractors, they do provide some valued services, including overseas relief and development programs and re-entry programs for inmates leaving federal prisons.
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