Officials said the change for federal contracting will impact some 24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce.
The order will protect employees who are lesbian, “gay,” bisexual, or transgender, described by the New York Times as a “crucial Democratic constituency.” In the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling upholding on religious grounds the right of privately held companies to exemptions from ObamaCare’s “contraceptive mandate,” the president appears to be inviting further litigation, since Monday's executive order will not make exceptions for religious organizations that contract with the federal government.
The order is also likely to be another charge in the lawsuit being prepared by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) against the administration for attempting to bypass Congress to enact by executive order initiatives the legislative branch won’t pass. Obama warned last month he would sign such an order if a bill called the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, passed by the Democratic majority in the Senate, has not been acted on by the Republican-controlled House. The bill, if enacted, would cover nearly all employers, not just federal agencies or companies that contract with them.
Earlier this year, Obama ordered an increase in the hourly minimum wage, from $7.50 to $10.10, for employees of federal agencies and contractors after the House refused to pass the same increase for all minimum-wage employees.
Boehner and House Republicans have also charged Obama with usurping legislative authority by unilaterally altering portions of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and suspending enactment of the nation's immigration laws to prevent deportation of people who were brought here illegally as children prior to 2002. The president has frequently expressed his frustration with Congress for refusing to act on proposed “comprehensive immigration reform.”
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Photo of President Obama: AP Images