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Obama gives protection to gay, transgender workers

WASHINGTON – Federal workers and contractors who are gay and transgender are getting new protections from President Barack Obama.

Obama is signing executive orders that will prohibit employment discrimination against those workers by the federal government and its contracting agencies.

Some religious groups and conservatives urged him to provide a broad exemption for religious groups, but Obama declined.

Last month, the Supreme Court allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of Obama’s requirement that employers provide free birth control.

The president planned to take the action Monday in the White House East Room.

President Bill Clinton already protected federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, but Obama is adding gender identity.

Neither group previously had protection under the law in federal contracting. Federal contractors employ one-fifth of the U.S. workforce.

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