- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2014

Top Democrats said Monday that President Obama is ready to sign an executive order, long sought by liberals, than bans discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Mr. Obama’s move “marks another significant step in our nation’s progress on civil rights.”

“This executive order adds to the list of the [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] community’s accomplishments during the Obama administration and is cause for celebration as we recognize June as LGBT Pride Month,” she said.

Mr. Obama has directed his staff to draft the executive order that would ban workplace discrimination, a White House official told The Huffington Post. It wasn’t clear whether the president intends to sign the order Monday or to put pressure on Congress to pass such a law.

LGBT activists responded with enthusiasm at the news.

“We’re thrilled that the White House is finally taking action on LGBT workplace discrimination — action that is long overdue, but that will finally begin to address the enormous hurdles that LGBT individuals face in finding and keeping a job in this country,” GetEQUAL Co-Director Heather Cronk said.

“It is now vitally important for all of us to insist that this executive order, when eventually signed by the president, does not include religious exemptions that would permit taxpayer dollars to be spent on discrimination,” she said.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat, said Democratic lawmakers “remain steadfast in our commitment to passing the Employee Non-Discrimination Act into law that will permanently extend these protections to all Americans. It’s time for Republicans to join us.”

Although Mr. Obama pledged to sign such an executive order during his 2008 presidential campaign, he has resisted calls for the move until this midterm election year, when Democrats are anxious to motivate their base of supporters. The Senate last fall passed an Employee Non-Discrimination Act, but House Republican leaders have not taken up the legislation.

Some activists now oppose the Senate bill, saying provisions that would grant exemptions to religious organizations have weakened the legislation.

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