President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against workers because of their sexual orientation, White House officials told reporters on Monday. Sanders is a cosponsor of legislation to protect all gay and transgender Americans from workplace discrimination. The Senate last Nov. 7 passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but the House has refused to take up the bill. Stymied by Republican opposition, Sanders and some 200 other members of Congress last March urged Obama act alone and issue an executive order to at least prohibit taxpayer-funded discrimination in federal contractor workplaces.
The letter from Sanders and others noted a long history of presidents using executive orders to address workplace discrimination. President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 prohibited discrimination in defense contracts on the bases of race, creed, color, or national origin. In subsequent executive orders, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson expanded those protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to discriminate.