President Barack Obama plans to sign executive orders prohibiting discrimination against gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, without a new exemption that was requested by some religious organizations. Obama's action comes on the heels of the US Supreme Court's recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of the federal health care law's requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge. Senior administration officials said today that ruling has no impact on non-discrimination policies in federal hiring and contracting.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly. Since Obama announced last month that he would sign the orders, he's faced pressure from opposing flanks over the religious exemption and given no indication of where he would come down. Many religious leaders and conservative groups wanted him to exempt religious organizations from the order, while liberal clergy and gay advocacy groups adamantly opposed such an exemption. The senior officials said Obama's action was planned for Monday at the White House, and will probably take effect early next year. Click for more. (Read more President Obama stories.)