A group standing up for the rights of LGBT families has commended US President Barack Obama for signing an order ensuring that LGBT employees of federal contractors are not discriminated against.

The Family Equality Council applauded President Barack Obama for signing the executive order today that bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and that bars discrimination against federal employees who are transgender.

The organisation’s Executive Director, Gabriel Blau said: “With the stroke of a pen this morning, President Barack Obama has reiterated his commitment to equality. At the foundation of every happy, healthy family is economic security – the ability to earn a living and the economic stability to provide for a dependent partner and children. Through this executive order, the President ensures protections for many of the LGBTQ families we serve so that they may better provide security and stability for their loved ones.

“The U.S. workforce contains approximately 5.4 million LGBTQ workers who face high risks of job discrimination. As of today LGBTQ federal employees and those who work for federal contractors will no longer face those risks.

“In June we were pleased to have a seat at the table at The White House Summit on Working Families so that we could educate political leaders, business owners, and family advocates about the disparities facing LGBTQ working families and the need to enact laws and policies that protect them. While we still lack a federal law that protects all LGBTQ workers across the country, this executive order is a significant advancement and we thank President Obama for today’s action on behalf of our community.”

The new order only applies to federal contractors, unlike the broader Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which remains stalled in the House of Representatives.

However, it has been praised by some for its lack of a religious freedom exemption, which is present in the current version of ENDA.