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Faith Leaders Ask President Obama For ‘Robust Religious Exemption’ From Executive Order On Anti-LGBT Discrimination: READ


As mentioned in our coverage of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision earlier today, religious leaders close to The White House sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, petitioning for a "robust religious exemption" to President Obama's earlier announced executive order that would make it illegal for all federal contractors to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, The Washington Post reports. This letter comes on the heels of a previouis letter from 140 religious leaders asking for a similar exemption. Importantly, Tuesday's letter was sent in the immediate wake of the Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court. The letter argues that religiously affiliated organizations should be able to discriminate against LGBT people:

The letter reminds Obama of his own earlier faith-based opposition to same-sex marriage, as well as the government’s massive partnerships with faith-based social service groups that work on issues including housing, disaster relief and hunger. […]

“An executive order that does not include a religious exemption will significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government.,” it said. “When the capacity of religious organizations is limited, the common good suffers.” […]

“Without a robust religious exemption . . . this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

None of the groups mentioned in the letter have explicitly said they would pull out of their partnerships with the White House if they do not get an exemption.

Executive Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights Kate Kendell commented on the request for a religious exemption, stating, "This would be a catastrophic erosion of non-discrimination protections. We will not stand for this.”

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511b8305a970c-150wiMeanwhile, Former Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Towleroad guest blogger Matt Foreman, also took issue with narrower interpretations of The Hobby Lobby ruling and asserted how disastrous it would be for the LGBT community should Hobby Lobby influence a religious exemption to President Obama's executive order:

Such an exemption would have been bad enough before Hobby Lobby, but the decision makes it even more deadly. The Hobby Lobby majority said the decision shouldn't be read to undermine employment nondiscrimination laws. BUT if the EO contains the ENDA exemption, there's nothing to stop the reasoning in Hobby Lobby from having full force and effect in justifying anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors - pushing the door even more widely open for discrimination against our people for essentially any reason whatsoever.

The only acceptable religious exemption is the one long-contained in Title VII. Anything else can spell disaster for years to come, including profoundly weakening the impact of future federal nondiscrimination laws and our hopes to secure meaningful civil rights protections in the 29 states that still lack them.

There is no moral or political justification for President Obama to cave and endorse LGBT people having less protections from discrimination than other Americans. This issue is not a side show; it is core to our equality.

You can read the letter to the President for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

Religious Exemption Letter to President Obama by atlanticonline

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  1. These "leaders" want to be able to discriminate against gays in housing, disaster relief, employment, and hunger for the common good and national unity?!

    This broad religious exemption wouldn't just be an erosion; it would nullify the whole point of non-discrimination altogether. "Don't worry, nobody will be able to discriminate against you except for all the ones who want to discriminate against you..."

    Posted by: TheWitch | Jul 3, 2014 5:16:55 PM

  2. The whine about "free birth control" (while not understanding how insurance works), but constantly want free money.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 3, 2014 5:20:15 PM

  3. i was reading the post about Ireland's Minister removing any religious exemption allowing religious run schools removing gay teachers.....and now I read this antediluvian
    horse manure .

    After all these years people are still using the phrase 'what makes America great'....it's like reading a bad script from the fifties.

    But with the opening line about them being religious and civic leaders seeking to uphold the common good, I just could not take the rest of this seriously.
    Delusional, just delusional.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 3, 2014 5:23:36 PM

  4. Freedom is something taken for granted in the developed countries of the world and doesn't really exist in all the third world countries(Africa,Russia,India,etc). The basic freedoms to Think, to Speak, and to BE are to be VALUED and PRESERVED, as they allow us all to develop as unique individuals, collectively making up the diverse world in which we live. Cultivate in your body freedom from illness, in your mind freedom from prejudice, and in your spirit freedom from bondage of religious cults and fundamentalism-then you will taste true freedom without limits. Humans are TRAINED through religion to be judgemental, hateful and bigoted.
    Tax the church!
    Tax the church!
    Tax the church!

    Posted by: SFshawn | Jul 3, 2014 5:23:47 PM

  5. Amen SFshawn...nicely said..

    Posted by: Derek | Jul 3, 2014 5:33:40 PM

  6. WASP's found another way to be bigots...this will continue to be a problem for the rest of our lives.

    Posted by: Robert | Jul 3, 2014 5:34:23 PM

  7. If there is to be a religious exemption to a Presidential-ENDA (PENDA?) then they should have to earn it by fighting for it in the courts.

    Obama must not cave (but probably already has).

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 3, 2014 7:30:30 PM

  8. Why they think their "belief" is more important than the belief of other non-religious contractors who want to discriminate?

    Posted by: simon | Jul 3, 2014 7:39:36 PM

  9. Not only does a religious exemption make the law meaningless, it actually codifies a way around discrimination and provides a way to discriminate legally. "Religious freedom" is the biggest lie perpetrated on the American public since Weapons of Mass Destruction. That these haters are pushing the president for a law creating a legal loophole for them to discriminate is sickening.

    Posted by: David | Jul 3, 2014 7:48:41 PM

  10. can the rest of us get an exemption from having their religion shoved down our throat

    Posted by: walter | Jul 3, 2014 9:10:44 PM

  11. F-CK Religion and F-CK religious people and their crazy!

    Posted by: Ned | Jul 3, 2014 10:58:20 PM

  12. F-CK Religion and F-CK religious people and their crazy!

    Posted by: Ned | Jul 3, 2014 10:58:20 PM

  13. We should all be calling out religious crazies and frankly most religious people,every chance we get.

    Posted by: Orchid | Jul 3, 2014 10:59:02 PM

  14. No what we need to do is TAX the church.

    Tax the church.

    Tax the church.

    Posted by: Brian Winerst | Jul 3, 2014 10:59:48 PM

  15. Religious people have wayyy too much rights (for essentially believing in glorified fairy tales) What I'd like to see is the church lose it's tax exempt status seeing how it so frequently interferes with politics.

    Posted by: roundtheblast | Jul 3, 2014 11:01:09 PM

  16. Religion has literally killed MILLIONS of people throughout history and now religious people all throughout the world are stoning gay people and killing gays, and yet these cult followers want to pretend like they are the martyrs?

    Posted by: Carmelo | Jul 3, 2014 11:03:59 PM

  17. Look, there are tons of people in this country of faiths OTHER than fundamental Christianity. Once they open the "religious freedom" loophole then anyone can step through it. It shouldn't be too long before some goy is turned away at an orthodox establishment or some woman is run out of a Muslim run business and all these religious nazis (yes, I went there) get a heaping taste of pay back.

    Posted by: e.c. | Jul 4, 2014 2:01:36 AM

  18. Do these anti-gay demons understand that all we are all guaranteed is but one life? Why on Earth do they continue to promote hate and prejudice behind Law and Spirituality?

    I can only pity them. They're not fully formed.

    Posted by: Albert | Jul 4, 2014 2:28:40 AM

  19. Just out of curiosity, can we (with any chance of success) ask Obama for an exemption from "faith leaders"?

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 5, 2014 7:47:03 PM

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