"In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fire-able offense," Obama said. "I firmly believe it's time to address this injustice for every American."
Obama's two-part directive will amend an existing executive order that was issued by President Johnson in 1965 preventing federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The new order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to this list.
The directive also amends another existing executive order, issued by
Last Friday, senior administration officials said that the executive order would affect 24,000 companies.
Obama also called for pressure on members of
"Congress has spent four decades, 40 years, considering legislation that would help solve the problem," he said. "And yet they still haven't gotten it done."
The president received praise from members of Congress and human rights groups for the new orders.
“Today’s executive order signing is another big step toward equality for the LGBT community,” said Rep.
"Now, all federal workers will be judged on whether or not they do their job and not on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity," she said in a statement.