The new order, which Obama said last month he would sign, makes no new exemptions for religiously affiliated contractors. Those employers will continue to be allowed to make hiring decisions based on an employee's faith, but cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Senior administration officials estimate that the new rules will affect 24,000 companies and 8 million employees.
Although it was long a priority for gay rights groups, Obama had put off the contracting order, saying that he’d rather see
But there has long been little hope that such legislation would pass through the Republican-led
Since Obama instructed his staff to draft the order last month, some religious groups lobbied for additional exemptions. In 2002, President
Obama will sign two orders, officials said. One amends an executive order signed by President Johnson in 1965 that prevents federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, religion or national origin.