President Obama promised to issue an executive order that would prohibit Federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. It was announced on Friday that the order, to be signed on Monday, won’t include a broad religious exemption as some faith groups had requested. This is good news.
The call for a broad religious exemption in the coming order started after the Hobby Lobby court decision:
The day after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, a group of religious leaders sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he exempt them from a forthcoming executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.
The letter, first reported by The Atlantic, was sent on Tuesday by 14 representatives, including the president of Gordon College, an Erie County, Pa., executive and the national faith vote director for Obama for America 2012, of the faith community.
“Without a robust religious exemption,” they wrote, “this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”
The order was being created after Congress balked at passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The proposed law did include a religious exemption but after the Hobby Lobby decision expanded how far such exemptions could be applied, many groups who supported ENDA have now said such exemptions could be used by any for-profit companies to discriminate. Many of the groups who initially supported ENDA have now pulled their support of it.
That is why a similar exemption included in the executive order would be problematic.
Friday the White House announced that such a broad exemption would not be included in the executive order:
The Huffington Post reported on Friday that Obama’s order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing non-discrimination order that covers race, sex and religion. A White House official confirmed the report to TPM. It will not include any general religious exemption for religious employers.
The Hobby Lobby court case has caused a lot of rethinking on the usual religious exemptions thrown into laws to gain passage like it was for the ENDA.