Obama gives protection to gay, transgender workers

FILE - In this Tuesday June 17, 2014 file photo President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall in New York. President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration’s advocacy to the community to the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans. Obama during his first year in office became the first chief executive to say “transgender” in a speech, the first to name transgender political appointees and the first to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers. He also signed hate crime legislation that represented the first federal civil rights protections for transgender people in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday June 17, 2014 file photo President Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) fundraiser gala in Gotham Hall in New York. President Barack Obama, who established his bona fides as a gay and lesbian rights champion when he endorsed same-sex marriage, has steadily extended his administration’s advocacy to the community to the smallest and least accepted band of the LGBT rainbow: transgender Americans. Obama during his first year in office became the first chief executive to say “transgender” in a speech, the first to name transgender political appointees and the first to prohibit job bias against transgender government workers. He also signed hate crime legislation that represented the first federal civil rights protections for transgender people in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal workers and contractors who are gay and transgender are getting new protections from President Barack Obama.

Obama is signing executive orders that will prohibit employment discrimination against those workers by the federal government and its contracting agencies.

Some religious groups and conservatives urged him to provide a broad exemption for religious groups. But Obama declined.

Last month, the Supreme Court allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of Obama’s requirement that employers provide free birth control.

The president planned to take the action in the White House East Room Monday.

President Bill Clinton already protected federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But Obama is adding gender identity.

Neither group previously had protection under the law in federal contracting. Federal contractors employ one-fifth of the U.S. workforce.

 

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