President Barack Obama has asked members of his staff to draft an executive order that would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT employees of federal contractors on the basis of their sexual preference or gender identification, according to the Huffington Post.
The official told HuffPost that, "the president's intentions are clear," when asked whether or not Obama was expected to sign the order, adding:
Today, millions of Americans in most states in the country go to work every day knowing they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love. No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination. That’s why the President has long supported federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The executive order seems to be a reaction to Congress's failure to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would make it illegal to fire or harass an employee for identifying as LGBT. The bill passed in the Senate back in November, but has since gotten stuck in the Republican-controlled House, despite efforts by the administration to move it forward.
If signed, the order could protect the rights of up to 16 million LGBT Americans. Although some, like John Boehner, argue that the Civil Rights Act already protects individuals against this type of discrimination, it is currently technically legal to fire individuals because they identify as LGBT in 32 states.
News of the order has been well received by many officials, some of whom spoke out on Twitter:
Pleased the President is moving forward on #ENDA executive order. This is an important step toward justice and equality for all.— Rep. Doris Matsui (@DorisMatsui) June 16, 2014
Of course, some still wish the broader ENDA had passed. And others are fretting about Obama's pulling rank via executive order.