WASHINGTON — Barack Obama has refused to include a religious exemption in an executive order that he plans to sign today, which mandates that federal contractors hire homosexual and transgender persons.
According to White House representatives, Obama will sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Monday without any provisions for religious entities. The order prohibits federal contractors from refusing to hire prospects on the basis of their gender identity or “sexual orientation.”
“Following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, the president has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” an unnamed White House official told Time last week.
“The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This is consistent with the president’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect,” they stated.
For years, Christian groups have expressed concern over ENDA, which had also been considered in Congress, but failed. Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association has stated in the past that the bill is unnecessary as there is “no real problem of discrimination against homosexuals” in the workplace. The Traditional Values Coalition likewise worried how the legislation could effect child-related businesses, asserting, “If ENDA passes, students and children in daycare centers all across the nation will be subjected to individuals experimenting with their gender identities.”
“President Obama is … attempting to bypass Congress and essentially enact ENDA through the power of executive order,” lamented Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, in a recent article. “He has promised to require that all recipients of federal contracts be subject to ‘non-discrimination’ policies that include sexual orientation.”
Earlier this month, 14 prominent faith leaders signed a letter to Obama requesting that he add a religious exemption to the order. Signees included former Obama Faith Vote Director Michael Wear and spiritual adviser Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Florida.
“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,” the letter read. “When the capacity of religious organizations is limited, the common good suffers.”
But no new religious exemption will be included in the order, the White House states, raising concerns about the ramifications to businesses nationwide.
“[I]t’s a breeding ground for law suits, religious discrimination and unemployment,” states Godfather Politics. “Similar laws at the state level have already put companies out of business.”
The order is expected to take effect in 2015 after the Labor Department writes the rules surrounding the mandate.