Obama to sign order extending protections to gays

JULIE PACE
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FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama delivers his Inaugural address at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington. Obama's emphatic gay-rights advocacy in his inaugural address thrilled many activists. Yet almost immediately came the questions and exhortations as to what steps should be taken next. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House official says President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The move follows years of pressure from gay rights groups for Obama to sign the order. The White House has long said it preferred that Congress pass legislation applying to nearly all employees, but that the bill has languished in the House and there is little sign that lawmakers will take it up in an election year.

The official would not say when Obama planned to sign the order, only that the president had asked his staff to prepare a measure for his signature. The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the president's decision by name.