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President Barack Obama is set to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees, a White House official said Monday.

The move comes after years of pressure from gay rights groups for Obama to act on his own while a broader employment non-discrimination measure sits on Capitol Hill.

“The president’s intentions are clear,” the official said, when asked whether Obama would sign the order. “We will keep you posted.”

From the Associated Press:

There is currently no federal law that explicitly bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While Obama does not have the authority to extend that protection to all Americans, he can take unilateral action that impacts federal contractors, which make up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. workforce.

Obama has used this tactic before, signing executive orders that raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and expanding the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime pay. White House officials have cast the approach as part of the president’s effort to work around a Congress that continues to be mired in gridlock.

But those moves increased the frustration among gay rights supporters who have long pressed Obama to extend workplace discrimination protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals working for federal contractors. The White House publicly offered little explanation as to why the president moved forward on the wage-related orders but not the anti-discrimination measure.

The White House has not confirmed when the President plans to sign the order, but did say that Obama has asked his staff to prepare a measure for his signature.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest.


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