President Obama signed an executive order Monday banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT individuals in employment decisions.
The order adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Previously, federal contractors and subcontractors were barred from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.
Several faith leaders petitioned the President to include a religious exemption in the order, which he declined to do. The order does allow religious organizations to preferentially hire applicants of their own faith for certain positions.
President Obama thanked LGBT advocates for championing the order.
"Thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer," he said at the signing ceremony.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin applauded the President's action.
"President Obama has cemented his legacy as a transformative leader," he said, according to the Miami Herald.
"Consistently, this administration has taken unprecedented and historic executive actions to advance LGBT equality in this country and around the world."
Family Research Council Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg described what the order means for faith-based organizations.
"If religious organizations cannot require that their employees conduct themselves in ways consistent with the teachings of their faith – then, essentially, those organizations are unable to operate in accordance with their faith," Sprigg told Fox News.
Pastor Robert Jeffress of Dallas' First Baptist Church said the order is a slippery slope.
"The problem with this executive order is that it paves the way for the next one – which could withhold the tax-exempt status or broadcast licenses for religious organizations holding biblical beliefs with which the administration disagrees," he told Fox News' Todd Starnes.
Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation remains legal in 29 states, according to the Human Rights Campaign.