The order extends a standing executive order that already prevents discrimination against LGBT federal employees. And while the president cheered the move in the right direction, he said it was important to keep pressure on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would extend protections to all private workers.
Across the country, 18 states and more than 200 cities and municipalities have already passed versions of ENDA within their jurisdictions, fewer now, Obama pointed out, than states that permit same-sex marriage.
In taking action Monday, President Obama amended executive orders issued by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon that barred discrimination against federal contractors and employees by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories.
Obama's statement highlighted the positive business effect non-discrimination policies have on American businesses.
"It's not just about doing the right thing, it's about attracting the best talent," he said. "We have an obligation to keep fighting to be sure 'we the people' means all the people."