Pandora's Box Wide Open: Faith Leaders Ask Obama for Exemptions to Discriminate Against LGBT Persons

In the wake of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores decision, U.S. religious leaders have sent a missive to President Obama demanding exemptions from a pending executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons. 


The Atlantic is reporting that the letter was sent by officials of 14 organizations. It attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, which was handed down yesterday. The letter argues that the government must show more deference to the rights of religions.

"We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need," says the letter. 

"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," it continues. 

While controversial, the Hobby Lobby decision is considered a huge victory for those on the religious right, who have been accusing the Obama administration on waging a "war on religion." 

There are many fears — punctuated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's dissenting opinion of the decision — that Hobby Lobby can be read broadly and allow for widespread discrimination. Many legal commentors believe the Court's ruling grants business owners the right to discriminate against LGBT customers and employees on religious grounds. The decision is already being celebrated by opponents of LGBT rights who see it as a license to ignore non-discrimination laws.

But as The Atlantic notes, this letter doesn't come from Obama's opponents, but  from religious leaders who are mostly friendly to the White House. Some have even been close advisers on issues such as immigration reform. One of the authors of the letter is Michael Wear, who worked in the White House and was a faith-outreach consultant for President Obama's 2012 campaign. Other signatories include three former members of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Two prominent Catholic supporters of Obama also signed the letter.

Only last week, the Obama administration said it would ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — a measure for which LGBT rights groups have long clamored.

While the letter didn't directly mention the Hobby Lobby ruling, Wear told The Atlantic that the letter was written, in part, as a response to the decision.

#story_page_post_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.