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President Obama moves to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors

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President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order that would forbid federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity when hiring workers, a White House official confirmed Monday.

The executive order would expand existing rules for federal contractors that forbid discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

There is currently no federal law that forbids anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

The White House has long said its preferred method of stopping LGBT-based discrimination in the workplace would be the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). That bill, if signed into law, would apply to private and public employers, while the executive order is limited to federal contractors.

But it's widely expected that the House of Representatives will not act on ENDA this year. The Senate passed the bill in 2013.

The president in the past characterized 2014 as a year of executive action. He previously signed, for instance, an executive order that increased the minimum wage for federal contractor's employees. Today's announcement continues this approach for LGBT issues.

Update and correction: Added more context, and changed the headline to correctly state the employees of federal contractors, not federal employees, are protected under the order.