Last week Republicans quietly voted to gut President Obama’s executive order barring workplace discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors.
The House Armed Services Committee voted 33 to 29 to add language into the 2017 defense authorization bill that blocks the president’s 2014 executive action that makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of government contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead the amendment applies a broad exemption that would allow contractors to openly discriminate against LGBT people based on the contractors’ religious beliefs. Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at the Center for American Progress stated, “Despite the national outcry in response to anti-LGBT bills across the country, extreme elements of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives are now inexplicably playing politics with our national security in an attempt to undermine existing workplace protections for millions of Americans. Taxpayer funds should never subsidize discrimination. No federal contractor should be allowed to fire an LGBT worker simply because of their sexual orientation & gender identity. It is that simple.” More than 2,000 federal contracts are awarded every year to religious organizations. In all the executive order affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce. Every Democrat on the committee & two Republicans, Reps. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) & Joe Heck (Nev.) opposed the measure by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.).
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