Today, the White House made known that President Obama is preparing to issue an Executive Order prohibiting Federal contractors from considering sexual orientation in their employment decisions.
What is unclear from the news out of The White House is whether the Executive Order will include an appropriate exemption for religious institutions that contract with the federal government to provide social welfare and other programs.
Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America—the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization—issued the following statement on this point:
“Over the past decade, we have worked with Congressional proponents of expanding LGBT rights, such as Senator Ted Kennedy and Representatives Barney Frank and George Miller, to ensure that the expansion of LGBT rights does not come at the expense of other constitutional rights, namely religious liberties. Years ago, we met with Mssrs. Kennedy, Frank and Miller and made the case that civil rights must be a “win/win” proposition, not a “zero sum game.” Thus, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”)—which, if passed, would bar sexual orientation discrimination in America’s private sector—contains an appropriate exemption for religious institutions. (If a religious institution is allowed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to consider religion in its hiring decisions, it would be exempt from ENDA.)
In recent months and weeks, we have been afforded the opportunity to meet with senior Obama Administration officials about the Executive Order. In brief, the case we made is the same—that the expansion of civil rights of LGBT Americans must not come at the expense of the religious liberties of American faith institutions. The President should include similar exemption language in his Executive Order.”
The Orthodox Union is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization; the OU Advocacy Center, formerly the Institute for Public Affairs, is the non-partisan public policy arm of the OU and leads its advocacy efforts in Washington, DC and state capitals.