Gay rights groups are praising President Obama for his plans to issue an executive order Monday that would ban federal employment discrimination based on gender identity.

Obama also will prohibit transgender- and sexual orientation-related discrimination by federal contractors, as our colleague Zachary A. Goldfarb reported Saturday. Federal employees already have sexual orientation protections.

Gay rights advocates have long pushed for such action, as the White House waited for Congress to move. They praised Obama’s decision to act now and urged Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The executive order “will make explicit the protection against gender identity discrimination for federal government employees,” said Greg Nevins, counsel in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. “It is important that employees have a remedy when they endure discrimination, but what the employee and everyone else really want is for the discrimination not to occur in the first place, and the executive order’s clear language furthers that goal.”

He called the order “a tremendous step forward because so many workers live in states without effective legal protections and the federal employment protections for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] workers are not explicit. This executive order will ensure that there are at least some workplaces in every state with explicit, legally binding protections for LGBT Americans.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said that “these actions from the president have the potential to be a keystone in the arc of his administration’s progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-LGBT discrimination must not be tolerated. We also call on Congress to immediately pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”