Obama to Sign Order Banning Federal Discrimination Against Gays

In a victory for gay rights activists, President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a White House official confirms to NBC News.

Federal workers make up nearly one quarter of the country’s workforce.

“Following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, the President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the official said. “The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. “

The announcement comes one day before Obama travels to New York for the Democratic National Committee's annual gay and lesbian gala fundraiser. LGBT donors have used previous fundraisers to press Obama to act to extend the discrimination protections to federal employees.