President Barack Obama is expected to deny federal contracts to companies and non-profits — including religious employers — that treat homosexuality differently from heterosexuality, according to White House officials.
That’s a huge step, because federal contractors employ roughly 20 percent of the nation’s workforce.
Progressives applauded the announcement — which comes one day before a major fundraiser with gay donors — and demanded that Obama leave no exceptions, even for religious non-profits that use federal dollars to aid the poor and disadvantaged.
“It is now vitally important for all of us to insist that this executive order, when eventually signed by the president, does not include religious exemptions that would permit taxpayer dollars to be spent on discrimination,” said a statement from Heather Cronk, the co-director of the GetEQUAL advocacy group.
The executive order has no been written yet, but if there are few or no exceptions, federal contractors or religious charities that aid the poor would be exposed to lawsuits if they decline to hire and promote homosexuals or people who dress as members of the other sex. Religious charities frequently provide services under government contracts.
“LGBT Americans need these protections immediately, and without the gaping holes that exemptions would create,” Cronk insisted.
Social conservatives objected to the pending regulation, which bypasses congressional opposition to the workplace rule.
“This is yet another example of what little regard President Obama has for the American people and our form of government,” said Mario Diaz, the legal council at Concerned Women for America.
“Democracy, once again, gets in the way of his personal preferences, and so he disregards it with little concern for the long-term implications of his actions… [He] only continues to divide and demonize people of faith who continue to believe as he claims he did not too long ago,” said Diaz, referring to the president’s prior claims to support religious autonomy and child-focused marriage.
Obama’s executive order is being described as an “anti-discrimination” measure because it would allow gay people, and people who say they want to live as members of the opposite sex, to use anti-discrimination law when they’re fired, demoted, not promoted or otherwise disadvantaged at work.
But it would also force federally funded employers — whether religious or not — to treat homosexuality the same as heterosexuality.
Less than 5 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Far less than 1 percent say they wish to live as members of the opposite sex.
Gay advocates have pushed Congress to pass nationwide rules against different treatment in the workplace. But the GOP’s majority in the House has blocked those proposals.
Progressive groups praised the proposed order, which follows Obama’s 2012 push for a redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex marriage.
“This president has done more for the struggle for [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] equality than all previous presidents combined,” said a statement from Anthony Romero, the gay director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity with taxpayer funds by all federal contractors will begin to undo one of the last vestiges of legally sanctioned discrimination,” he said.