On Monday, July 21, 2014, President Obama amended two prior executive orders to extend employment protections to lesbian, gay and/or transgender (LGBT) workers. Executive Order 11246 was first signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to ban discrimination by government contractors on the basis of race and gender, and later amended to include discrimination against the elderly and disabled. President Obama’s order adds gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected categories of employees. Executive Order 11478, which was first signed by President Richard Nixon in 1969, was amended to extend LGBT protections to employees of the federal government.

Federal contractors and subcontractors are now forbidden from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The President’s order follows a failed effort in the House of Representatives to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA, which would have banned such discrimination by all employers.

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