Columbia LGBTQ member speaks out on non-discrimination order

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COLUMBIA -  For the first time, companies that have contracts with the federal government are now prohibited from firing or discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, due to an executive order that went into effect Wednesday.

President Barack Obama signed the order in July 2014 banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government.

President Obama said the country has a long way to go but is on the right side of history. 

"We've got an obligation to ensure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love, no matter what you can make it in this country," President Obama said. 

MU student and member of the LGBTQ community Delan Ellington said he feels the federal government is taking a step in the right direction. 

"It's good that the federal government is doing this, but as a country we are still in that battle of whether LGBTQ rights should be held and protected so I think this is a good step in protecting everyone," Ellington said. 

He said this new executive order means a lot to him because he no longer has to fear being fired. 

"For me, since I want to be a professor and researcher working for a university that is public, they wouldn't be able to fire me," Ellington said. 

Ellington said this will make people in the LGBTQ community feel safer. 

"It definitely makes you feel more comfortable, safer to be who you really are instead of hiding and creating that double life like some people have to do," Ellington said. 

The University of Missouri-Columbia said it isn't impacted by the order because the university already has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. 

MU's nondiscrimination statement states: 

"The University of Missouri does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, genetics information, disability, or status as a protected veteran. The University's nondiscrimination policy applies to all phases of its employment process, its admission and financial aid programs, and to all other aspects of its educational programs and activities."

The administration took the last six months to provide rules to contractors and to give companies time to put processes in place.

According to the Huffington Post, the change affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation's workforce.

Currently, it is still legal in 29 states to harass someone at work or fire them for being LGBTQ.