In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unprecedented decision in Hobby Lobby, LGBT advocates working across the country are deeply concerned about what will happen next, especially as the President’s staff prepares an executive order protecting LGBT people from discrimination by federal contractors.
Some groups are urging President Obama to include in his promised executive order overly broad, far-reaching religious exemptions that would allow businesses that receive taxpayer dollars to discriminate against hardworking LGBT employees.
At the Equality Federation, we believe the only acceptable religious exemptions are those which are provided by the Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we’ve written a letter to the President — signed by leaders of 45 state-based LGBT advocacy organizations — urging him to do the right thing and sign an executive order that ensures hardworking LGBT employees are judged on the same terms as everyone else — by their credentials, experience, education, and performance.
Without a doubt, President Obama has shown incredible leadership in advancing LGBT equality. Because of his commitment, we have never been closer to an America that ensures all people have the same chance to earn a living, take care of their families, be safe in their communities, and pursue health and happiness.
As the President continues his dedication to fairness, freedom, and opportunity for all, we hope he will heed the concerns of Federation member organizations — all of whom have added their voices to this critical request:
“One of our nation’s most fundamental values is the free exercise of religion, but religious freedom does not include the right to discriminate against or otherwise harm others.
“We ask you to make a clear statement that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is no different from the other classes protected by federal law by ensuring that the executive order not contain any exemption beyond what is provided by the Constitution and Title VII.
“Any greater exemption leaves hardworking LGBT individuals at risk of being fired or treated unfairly for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance. Any greater exemption threatens our work in the states to secure critical and comprehensive protections for LGBT employees. Any greater exemption could have serious detrimental effects in the future as this order will likely set the standard for forthcoming state and federal legislation to end discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of our lives.”
As the strategic partner to the state-based LGBT movement, we’re proud to stand with our fellow advocates and send a strong message to the President.
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