By Daniel Reynolds
The governor of Montana has signed an executive order that will protect LGBT state employees from discrimination.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Gov. Steve Bullock announced at a press conference that it is time to “recommit to King’s values of compassion and equity” by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The order expands prohibitions against discrimination to also include pregnancy and military service, reports the Associated Press.
The executive order goes into effect immediately, and will protect state workers, contractors, and subcontractors from discrimination in employment as well as provision of government services. It also calls for diversity programs designed to prevent harassment.
The Democratic politician added, “while an executive order applies to state government only, I encourage private businesses to examine their policies as well.”
Bullock also posted a message on Twitter in honor of the occasion.
— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) January 18, 2016
The move was lauded by LGBT activists and groups, including the Human Rights Campaign. Chad Griffin, the organization’s president, praised Bullock’s executive order, and expressed his hopes that other government leaders will follow his example.
“Discrimination in any form is wrong, and through his actions today, Governor Bullock has taken a bold step to expand equality and fairness for all,” Griffin said in a statement.
“We commend him for doing everything in his administrative power to fight for the rights of LGBT Montanans, and hope his actions encourage other government officials to make safeguarding protections for all residents and visitors a priority," he added.
Protections for LGBT workers vary by state, as there are no federal laws against workplace discrimination. HRC notes that workers can be fired in 31 states for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Equality Act, which is currently being lobbied in Congress, would expand protections for LGBT workers across the United States.