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Obama to sign executive order barring federal agencies from discriminating against LGBT employees
July 18, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
President Obama plans to sign executive orders barring federal agencies and government contractors from discriminating against gay or transgender employees. There will also be no exemption to the policy for employers who object on religious grounds to employing LGBT people, including faith based agencies that receive government contracts. Some conservative religious groups had requested that exemption over the protests of other groups.
While I agree that employers should not discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, I also think there is some cause for concern about the lack of an exemption for religious organizations. Is Obama overstepping his bounds with yet another executive order for a law that could not pass muster in Congress? The Supreme Court ruled this summer that businesses like Hobby Lobby can opt out of the federal health care requirement that contraception coverage be provided to employees at no extra charge, provided that the requirement violates an employer's religious convictions. That recent decision makes me wonder if Obama's proposed executive order prohibiting discrimination against gay and transgender employees might be equally unconstitutional on religious grounds. Various news agencies have also reported that House Speaker John Boehner wants to file a federal lawsuit challenging Obama's executive orders on constitutional grounds. This would be one more for his list of grievances.
Some government contractors are faith-based organizations that provide services to inmates re-entering the workforce or overseas relief and development programs. If employers object to hiring gays or transgender employees on religious grounds, those organizations would probably either have to stop working with the government or violate their moral convictions and hire LGBT employees. What do you make of President Obama's proposed executive order?
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