In a move that is likely to disappoint gay rights activists and liberal supporters alike, President Obama has decided not to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination by employers with federal contracts against LGBT employees.

Activists say that the order had support from both the Labor and Justice Departments, and the urgency of the bill follows from the fact that there is no law as of now that protects against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. While Mr Obama supports a legislation towards this effect, there are insufficient votes to pass the bill through the Congress.

The New York Times found one official from the White House to speak to it anonymously. This official said: “While it is not our usual practice to discuss executive orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an executive order on L.G.B.T. nondiscrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time… We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with Congressional sponsors to build support for it.”

What will anger gay rights activists is that this stance departs from the so-called “we can’t wait” campaign, wherein the President saw it fight to sign executive orders on a host of issues, arguing that the administration couldn’t wait for bills to be put through Congress that the Republicans refuse to pass.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, having attended a White House meeting on the same day called by one of Mr Obama’s closest advisers, said of the decision: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision and will continue to advocate for an executive order from the president. The unfortunate truth is that hard-working Americans can be fired simply for being gay or transgender.”