President Barack Obama signed two executive orders expanding LGBT workplace protections for federal employees and employees of federal contractors.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama signed two executive orders on Monday extending employment protections to LGBT federal workers and those employed by federal contractors.

The new orders now bar anti-LGBT discrimination in federal government employment and employment by federal contractors, protecting employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Obama had previously protected federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation alone, though several Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rulings had extended similar protections on the basis of gender and gender identity.

National leaders praised Obama’s decision to extend the protections.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, all hardworking LGBT employees of the federal government and federal contractors are protected from discrimination. Because of these historic executive orders, LGBT workers will be judged on their qualifications, experience, and performance — nothing more, and nothing less,” Equality Federation Executive Director Rebecca Isaacs said in a release.

The Equality Federation has 45 member organizations, including Equality North Carolina and SC Equality. All 45 of their member organizations supported Obama’s executive orders.

Isaacs added, “America is a land of opportunity and freedom — where people who work hard and meet their responsibilities have the chance to get ahead. These executive orders will help ensure that all people, including those who are LGBT, have a fair opportunity to earn a living, meet their obligations, provide for themselves and their families, and build a better life.”

The new executive order on federal contractors will have a significant impact in North Carolina, where thousands are employed by contractors doing business with North Carolina’s large federal military presence.

On a state level, neither North Carolina nor South Carolina protect government workers or those in the private sector from anti-LGBT discrimination. Last month, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory opted not to include LGBT protections in his own equal employment executive order. Since then, McCrory and his staff have repeatedly declined to answer questions from qnotes on McCrory’s specific position on LGBT workplace protections. Inquiries sent Monday via email to McCrory Deputy Communications Director Ryan Tronovitch and McCrory’s press office were not answered.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.