Share the news: President Obama will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 16, 2014
The White House announced the news yesterday via Twitter.
Just two years ago, the White House indicated that President Obama would not sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, preferring that Congress act to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would have banned LGBT discrimination in the private sector, entirely. However, ENDA stalled out in the House after passing the Senate last November.
And, according to Jennifer Bendery and Sam Stein reporting at The Huffington Post (article here), while President Obama has directed his staff to being drafting an Executive Order for his signature, there’s no guarantee that he’ll sign it right away:
“Notably, [a White House] official would not say whether the president will sign the order into law on Monday — suggesting the White House is leaking the news to warn lawmakers that they have a limited window to pass more sweeping workplace discrimination legislation before he acts without them.”
According to Edward Isaac-Dovere and Jennifer Epstein reporting at Politico (article here), there is some speculation that a delay in implementing the Executive Order could have to do with “the upcoming Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case, on the religious exemption for businesses to claim leeway from Obamacare’s contraception mandate.”
Other speculation suggests that, given the upcoming June 30 White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month reception, a signature on the Executive Order could come within the next two weeks.
Whatever the timing, absent a federal law on LGBT workplace discrimination, there are still many protections available for private-sector employees. Many states and municipalities already have laws banning LGBT discrimination. Further, same-sex discrimination based on gender stereotypes is also unlawful under Title VII. Moreover, many Fortune 500 companies (88% to be exact) have already banned LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
But as for a federal law specifically banning LGBT discrimination, it’s wait and see.