Trump rule to nix Obama order forcing religious contractors to hire LGBT workers
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration is proposing a rule that would permit government contractors to make employment decisions that are consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs, without fear of sanction by the federal government. If adopted, the rule would reverse an Obama-era executive order that restricted religious federal contractors’ ability to consider employees’ adherence to their faith on matters of sexuality and gender.
In 2014, former President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13672, which added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the criteria against which employers contracting with the federal government could not “discriminate.” On Thursday, the Federal Register published a new rule from the Trump Department of Labor (DOL) clarifying that contractors retain the freedom to make hiring and firing decisions consistent with their religious beliefs.
“Today’s proposed rule helps to ensure the civil rights of religious employers are protected,” Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella said in a press release. “As people of faith with deeply held religious beliefs are making decisions on whether to participate in federal contracting, they deserve clear understanding of their obligations and protections under the law.”
The rule follows a pattern of the US Supreme Court siding with the religious liberties of private entities such as Hobby Lobby, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and Trinity Lutheran Church against state discrimination claims. A DOL official told Politico that despite these favorable rulings, “many religious organizations were not participating in the procurement process because of concerns that [the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] would not fairly or correctly enforce the law related to the religious employer exemption.”
Left-wing organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) assailed the rule as an attack on LGBT Americans, but Becket Fund for Religious Liberty vice president and senior counsel Luke Goodrich explained the meaning and importance of the rule in a lengthy Twitter thread Wednesday:
Or does it also mean hiring people who actually FOLLOW the observances and practices of a religion? I.e., Catholic organizations can limit hiring to people who follow Catholic teaching? 6/— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) August 14, 2019
This threatened religious organizations with severe liability under federal law, including treble damages, and forced many to end their govt contracts. This, in turn, undermined the effectiveness of various federal programs. 9/— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) August 14, 2019
Most importantly, the old regime threatened religious groups that aid the most vulnerable members of society--like victims of human trafficking, the homeless, those struggling with addiction, and those in need of health care. 11/— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) August 14, 2019
The regs simply follow the text of Title VII by clarifying that hiring “individuals of a particular religion” means religious groups can hire individuals who adhere to the group’s observances and practices. Here's the key text: 14/ pic.twitter.com/fEKISsOsY2— Luke Goodrich (@LukeWGoodrich) August 14, 2019
The public can submit comments on the proposal until September 16, after which the administration will incorporate feedback and implement a finalized rule.