The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The states where employers can’t discriminate against gays — in one map

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The White House said Monday that President Obama will sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation.

For gay rights advocates, the decision marks a partial victory. Although the president is taking action on an issue they have long wanted addressed, the move appears to reaffirm the notion that the prospect of more sweeping legislation clearing Congress has dimmed.

In November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The bill would enact a federal law banning all employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, just as current federal law prohibits discrimination on the ground of race or religion, for example.

But it has stalled in the Republican-controlled House, where the office of Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has raised concerns that the bill would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs." (For more, read this explainer from The Post's Ed O'Keefe.)

The bottom line is that the federal debate remains unsettled. The president's executive order covers some but not all employers. What's more, executive orders can be undone by future presidents, and Congress remains divided over passing actual legislation.

But what about state laws? How many states have laws on the books prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation? The answer is 21 plus D.C. — and you can take a look at all of them in the map below, which comes from the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that supports LGBT rights.

As the key indicates, 18 states and D.C. have laws that bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.