President Obama will finally sign his anticipated executive order banning discrimination against gay employees by federal workers and contractors. Despite requests from his allies in the religious community, the order will not include any religious exemptions, according to The New York Times.
The president first announced his plans to sign the order last month, after Congress failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have prevented private and public employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill passed the Senate in November, but hasn't moved through the Republican-led House. The order will prevent federal contractors from discriminating against their LGBT employees and also protect federal employees from discrimination.
What it won't do is allow religious organizations to claim exemptions. As The Times reports, religious leaders petitioned the administration to allow an exemption in a letter sent July 1, requesting that “an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need.” Gay rights groups argued that allowing religious groups to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation would be discrimination, according to The Times.
There's a small compromise for religious groups, however. According to The Huffington Post, the order doesn't modify a previous order under President Bush that allows organizations to prioritize hiring people of their own religion. "Obama's executive order does not modify that Bush exemption," said a senior administration official told The Post. "It stands."