Updated 12:00 p.m. | President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday banning discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT people — without a broad religious exemption included in the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
“Our government, the government of the people, by the people and for the people, will become just a little bit fairer," Obama told a cheering audience in the East Room.
Obama said that while there is still a long way to go to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of who they love, they've come a long way in the past five years. "We’re on the right side of history,” Obama said before signing the order. The order has angered Republicans on Capitol Hill for not including a new religious exemption, and the executive order comes after the Supreme Court ruled Obama's contraception mandate via the Affordable Care Act violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the lead Republican sponsor of that law and a supporter of the Senate-passed ENDA bill, said in a statement Friday that the Obama administration has a "consistent disregard for religious liberty."
"In seeking to curtail unjust discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, we must ensure that legal protections do not trample upon basic religious liberties," Hatch said. "That’s why I worked with Republicans and Democrats to include a religious exemption and non-retaliation provision in the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Senate. President Obama should not unilaterally disregard our successful effort to achieve a bipartisan consensus that both promotes nondiscrimination and protects fundamental religious liberties.”
But Democrats had been pushing Obama repeatedly to take the action in recent years — even as the White House repeatedly rebuffed questions by saying they were focused on passing ENDA instead.
ENDA, however, hasn't gotten a vote in the GOP-controlled House.
"This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America's workplaces," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved."
Here's the text of the executive order:
EXECUTIVE ORDER -------
July 21, 2014FURTHER AMENDMENTS TO EXECUTIVE ORDER 11478, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND EXECUTIVE ORDER 11246, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITYBy the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including 40 U.S.C. 121, and in order to provide for a uniform policy for the Federal Government to prohibit discrimination and take further steps to promote economy and efficiency in Federal Government procurement by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it is hereby ordered as follows:Section 1. Amending Executive Order 11478. The first sentence of section 1 of Executive Order 11478 of August 8, 1969, as amended, is revised by substituting "sexual orientation, gender identity" for "sexual orientation".Sec. 2. Amending Executive Order 11246. Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965, as amended, is hereby further amended as follows:(a) The first sentence of numbered paragraph (1) of section 202 is revised by substituting "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin" for "sex, or national origin".(b) The second sentence of numbered paragraph (1) of section 202 is revised by substituting "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin" for "sex or national origin".(c) Numbered paragraph (2) of section 202 is revised by substituting "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin" for "sex or national origin".(d) Paragraph (d) of section 203 is revised by substituting "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin" for "sex or national origin".Sec. 3. Regulations. Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Labor shall prepare regulations to implement the requirements of section 2 of this order.Sec. 4. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:(i) the authority granted by law to an agency or the head thereof; or(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.Sec. 5. Effective Date. This order shall become effective immediately, and section 2 of this order shall apply to contracts entered into on or after the effective date of the rules promulgated by the Department of Labor under section 3 of this order.THE WHITE HOUSE, July 21, 2014.
BARACK OBAMA ###