The Trump administration has issued a directive to protect the rights of faith-based federal contractors who have religious objections to same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
On Friday, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs issued the directive to “incorporate recent developments in the law regarding religion-exercising organizations and individuals.”
Specifically, the directive cites three recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings and executive orders on religious freedom issued by President Donald Trump.
The agency suggests that while discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are still not permitted under Executive Order 11246 (as amended by former President Barack Obama in 2014), the First Amendment rights of companies and individuals who have religious objections to homosexuality will be protected.
“Section 202 of E.O. 11246 does not apply to ‘a [g]overnment contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities,'” the directive states.
The directive cites recent court decisions that have “addressed the broad freedoms and anti-discrimination protections that must be afforded religious-exercising organizations and individuals.”
Among the cases cited is the Supreme Court’s ruling this June in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips, who was punished by the Colorado state government for refusing to design a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012. Same-sex marriage was illegal in Colorado at that time.
The directive also cited last year’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Missouri church that was denied funding for playground repairs made available through the state government to other child care organizations. The church was denied the funding simply because it’s a place of worship even though the funding would be used for secular purposes.
Additionally, the directive cited the 2014 Supreme Court decision siding with the crafts store chain Hobby Lobby in its case against the Obamacare contraceptive mandate case.
The new directive lays out instructions for OFCCP staff to follow when enforcing the non-discrimination policy and exemptions.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith