• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 32s

Obama to sign orders protecting gay employees

By CBS/AP 3:46 PM July 18, 2014
WASHINGTON –

President Barack Obama plans to sign executive orders Monday prohibiting discrimination against gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, without a new exemption that was requested by some religious organizations.

Obama’s action comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge. Senior administration officials said Friday that ruling has no impact on non-discrimination policies in federal hiring and contracting.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

Since Obama announced last month that he would sign the orders, he’s faced pressure from opposing flanks over the religious exemption and given no indication of where he would come down. Many religious leaders and conservative groups wanted him to exempt religious organizations from the order, while liberal clergy and gay advocacy groups adamantly opposed such an exemption.

Until last month, Obama long resisted pressure to pursue an executive order for federal contractors in hopes that Congress would take more sweeping action banning anti-LGBT workplace discrimination nationwide. A bill to accomplish that goal – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - passed the Senate last year with some Republican support, but has not been taken up by the GOP-controlled House.

poll conducted last fall by Republican pollster Alex Lundry and the Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign showed that more than two-thirds of registered voters, including 56 percent of Republicans, support the protections of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In fact eight out of 10 thought that such federal workplace protections were already in place.

Senior officials said Obama’s action planned for Monday at the White House would amend two executive orders. The first, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on race, religion, gender or nationality in hiring. Obama plans to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protections, and order the Labor Department to carry out the order. The officials said that means the change will probably take effect by early next year.

President George W. Bush had amended Johnson’s order in 2002 to allow religious groups to hire and fire based upon religious identity. Churches also are able to hire ministers as they see fit. The senior administration officials said Obama will not change those exemptions.

The second order Obama will amend was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 to prevent discrimination against federal workers based on race, religion, gender, nationality, age or disability. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation, and Obama will include gender identity in a change to immediately take effect.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “With two strokes of a pen, the President will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of LGBT people across the country.”

The administration officials said the change for federal contracting will impact some 24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce. Many large federal contractors already have employment policies barring anti-gay workplace discrimination, as do 21 states. However, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimates that the executive order would extend protections to about 14 million workers whose employers or states currently do not have such nondiscrimination policies.

While few religious organizations are among the biggest federal contractors, they do provide some valued services, including overseas relief and development programs and re-entry programs for inmates leaving federal prisons.

Obama was the first sitting president to publicly announce support of gay marriage, and in 2008 he promised to sign an anti-discrimination executive order.

CBS/AP

Latest Stories

  • News

    JBER soldiers train in bomb disposal

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 22, 20:27

    Soldiers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson conducted improvised explosive device (IED) training today, reminiscent of a scene from the movie “The Hurt Locker.” Members of the 716th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company are keeping their skills sharp. In the exercise, the unit’s explosives robot has malfunctioned, so a soldier dons the blast suit and goes in to check out an IED. […]

  • News

    Sitka family turns home brews into booming business

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 22, 18:05

    It’s 5 p.m. on a Friday in Sitka and Baranof Island Brewing Company‘s tasting room is packed. Residents are lined up out the door to get a taste of the brewery’s new Pumpkin Ale. The brewing company’s owners say business has come along way in just three years. “It’s been an overwhelming response,” said owner Rick […]

  • News

    Pebble Partnership sues EPA again

    by Sierra Starks, Hope Miller on Oct 22, 17:19

    The Pebble Partnership is again suing the Environmental Protection Agency, this time saying that the agency has been secretly meeting with environmentalists in an attempt to undermine the Pebble Mine Project. In a complaint filed Oct. 14, Pebble is requesting that the EPA produce documents that were “improperly withheld” after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) […]

  • News

    2 dead in shooting attack at Canada’s Parliament

    by CNN / AP on Oct 22, 12:08

    A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country’s capital was shot to death Wednesday, and heavy gunfire then erupted inside Parliament. One gunman was killed, and police said they were hunting for as many as two others. The bloodshed immediately raised the specter of a coordinated terrorist attack, with Canada already […]

  • Lifestyle

    Video game with Alaska Native storyline unveiled in Anchorage

    by Hope Miller on Oct 22, 12:03

    The first of its kind, a video game rooted in Alaska Native culture is set for release next month. Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) is a one- to two-player puzzle-platform game. Set in the harsh and beautiful northern Arctic, it follows a girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion as they try to figure out what’s causing […]

  • News

    Anchorage police: 11-year-old runaways found safe

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 22, 11:12

    UPDATE: The two 11-year-old girls who ran away from an Anchorage middle school Tuesday morning have been found safe, says APD spokeswoman Anita Shell. Original story: Authorities are searching for two 11-year-old girls who ran away from an Anchorage middle school Tuesday morning, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Early Wednesday morning, APD was notified that Katelynn […]

  • Politics

    US Rep. Don Young apologizes after suicide comment

    by Associated Press on Oct 22, 10:22

    U.S. Rep. Don Young has apologized after telling students at a high school where a child recently committed suicide that people kill themselves when there’s a lack of support from family and friends. Wasilla High School Principal Amy Spargo says students and adults at the assembly took offense because it was as if they were […]

  • News

    Fairbanks schools won’t suspend recruitment

    by Associated Press on Oct 22, 8:24

    Administrators in the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna school districts have suspended military recruiting at schools after allegations of sexual advances by recruiters but officials in Fairbanks say they have no plans to limit visits. Fairbanks school board President Heidi Haas tells the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1DAFNUl) she’s not concerned about problems with recruiters at district schools. […]