Americans United for Separation of Church and State today thanked President Barack Obama for issuing an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The order, to be issued this morning, will not include an exemption for religious groups. Americans United hailed the president for making the right call.
“Religious groups have no right to accept taxpayer money and engage in rank forms of discrimination,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Faith-based groups that tap the public purse should play by the same rules as everyone else and not expect special treatment.”
When the White House announced that Obama would issue the order, some religious groups immediately called for an exemption for “faith-based” organizations. Americans United joined with 98 religious, civil rights, women’s, LGBT, secular and other groups in a letter urging Obama to reject those demands.
Faith-based organizations, AU noted, have the right to discriminate in privately funded endeavors. But when they seek and accept public support, they should not be allowed to discriminate.
AU pointed out that faith-based groups that accept federal contracts already retain the right to prefer members of their own faith in hiring under an executive order that dates from the George W. Bush presidency. AU has in the past urged Obama to rescind this rule and is disappointed that it has been left intact.
“No forms of discrimination should be supported with the taxpayer dime, period,” said Lynn.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.