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No religious exemptions: Obama to sign orders protecting gay, transgender employees

BY NEDRA PICKLER
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama plans to sign executive orders Monday 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 U.S. 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 Friday 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.

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