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US: Civil rights groups ask Obama not to include a religious exemption in upcoming executive order

Katie Dupere July 15, 2014

Over 60 civil rights organisations have signed a letter addressed to President Barack Obama today that urges him to not include a religious exemption in his upcoming executive order that bans federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Among the letters notable signers are the NAACP, The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

This letter comes after over one hundred faith leaders signed a similar letter to the president last week urging him to minimise the same religious exemption.

If included, the exemption would allow companies and service agencies with federal contracts, including some big-name corporations that do business with federal government, the ability to fire LGBT people for religious reasons.

The letter states: “Religious freedom is one of our most cherished values, a fundamental and defining feature of our national character. It guarantees us the freedom to hold any belief we choose and the right to act on our religious beliefs within certain limits. It does not, however, provide organizations the right to discriminate using taxpayer dollars…

“Time and again, you have demonstrated through both word and action your strong commitment to the principle that all Americans deserve to be treated with basic fairness and equality under the law. Signing an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans by all federal contractors and restoring the prohibition against religious discrimination by all federal contractors will be key parts of your legacy of upholding this principle.

“We urge you to act to prohibit any discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion with taxpayer funds by all federal contractors, including religiously affiliated organizations.”

More: Americas, US

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