Charles Dharapak/AP

Obama to Sign Executive Order Protecting Transgender Feds

Announcement is latest in a series of White House moves to ensure rights for LGBT workers.

President Obama will soon certify federal agencies cannot discriminate against transgender employees.

On Monday he announced his intentions to sign an executive order to back up existing regulations. The guidance, which Obama has ordered staff to draft, will ban workplace discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity.

A 2009 Obama order prohibited the firing of federal workers for any reason other than job performance, and a 2013 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling determined the 1964 Civil Rights Act gender protection provisions extended to gender identity.

Still, Obama said the move will help bring the federal government in line with the private sector.

“The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent,” Obama said Monday during a White House event honoring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month. “And I agree. So if Congress won’t act, I will.”

Advocates applauded the announcement, calling Obama the “most pro-LGBT president in history.”

“Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never because of a fundamental aspect of who they are -- like their gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “And the federal government, like employers across America, is best served by ensuring every qualified individual is able to serve without fear of discrimination. We thank President Obama for announcing this crucial and historic measure, and we look forward to seeing it signed soon.”

Earlier in June, Obama announced he would also sign an executive order barring workplace discrimination against LGBT federal contractors. Gay employees in the federal workforce are already protected by an executive order from President Clinton, but a recent report from the Merit Systems Protection Board found additional safeguards could be guaranteed through legislation. 

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