All right, one piece of good news. Obama signed the tweaked ENDA today and it did not include a religious exemption. Woohoo!
President Barack Obama signed a highly anticipated executive order Monday, which amends the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include LGBT workers. The executive order restricts all federal branches and federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order takes effect immediately for federal employees. Federal contractors will have provisions in place by early 2015, according to the Huffington Post.
ENDA, who has been expanded by several presidents, previously restricted the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, but the executive order added gender identity to that restriction. This is the first time an LGBT-centric restriction was put on federal contractors.
Obama’s executive order did not include a religious exemption that many in the LGBT community feared would provide a loophole to religiously-affiliated businesses.
And many in the secular and civil liberties communities, too.
“We applaud today’s executive order, which demonstrates a concrete commitment to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Gary Buseck, interim executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), in a statement. “It’s a step that will make the workplace better and fairer for LGBT employees …”
The Center for Inquiry, an organization which advances science, reason, and secular values, has been urging President Barack Obama not to include a religious exemption in his Executive Order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans – whether or not those contractors consider themselves “religious” or “religiously affiliated.” Today, the president indeed signed the order without those religious exemptions.
Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy had this to say about the signing of the new Executive Order, which amends Executive Orders 11246 and 11478:
“We applaud President Obama for issuing an Executive Order that will protect LGBT Americans from discrimination by federal contractors. We are especially relieved and encouraged that the president has chosen not to bend once again to the enormous pressure applied by religious interests, but has recognized that, at the very least, taxpayer funded work must never be done under the shadow of discrimination. This will ensure that all LGBT individuals are protected—including those who work for federal contractors that consider themselves religious.
“Too often religious beliefs are used as an excuse to avoid obeying laws that apply to everyone else, as the regrettable Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case illustrates. While there is still room for improvement in this new order – the president has once again refused to close a Bush-era loophole that allows religiously affiliated federal contractors to favor individuals of the same faith when hiring – it is a welcome step in the right direction, toward a secular government in which religion can’t be used as a shield for prejudice and unequal treatment.”
CFI was among at least 98 organizations asking the president not to include the religious exemption language, which was sought by a variety of religious groups and leaders.
Too bad about not closing the loophole letting goddy contractors hire fellow goddy types though.