Thursday, July 03, 2014

Faith Leaders Ask Obama To Include Religious Exemption In Planned LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order

In remarks (full text) at a June 30 White House reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month, President Obama announced that he has directed his staff to prepare two executive orders.  One will prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Another will expand the sexual orientation non-discrimination provisions applicable to federal employees to also include gender identity.

Meanwhile the Washington Post reports on a July 1 letter (full text) sent to the President by 14 clergy and faith-based organization leaders asking the President to include a religious exemption in any executive order on federal contractors and LGBT employment policy. The letter reads in part:
Without a robust religious exemption,, like the provisions in the Senate-passed ENDA, this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom....
While the nation has undergone incredible legal and social change over the last decade, we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality. We must find a way to respect diversity of opinion on this issue in a way that respects the dignity of all parties to the best of our ability.... [A] religious exemption would simply maintain that religious organizations will not be automatically disqualified or disadvantaged in obtaining contracts because of their religious beliefs.