President Barack Obama signed an executive order Monday prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of gender identify and sexual orientation, winning praise from LGBT rights groups and fulfilling a longtime promise to Democratic activists.
"Thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government - a government of the people, by the people and for the people -- will become just a little bit fairer," Obama told supporters at the White House.
The measure also ensures that federal employees will be formally protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The order does not contain an exemption for religious organizations, dealing a blow to faith groups who say it hampers religious freedom.
Obama also backs broad legislation that would bar discrimination against LGBT employees nationwide. The Senate passed such a measure last year but it has not been taken up in the GOP-led House.