Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert

(San Francisco, CA, June 21, 2011)—Today, Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Barney Frank (D-MA), and Melvin L. Watt (D-NC) called on President Barack Obama to restore essential employment protections and religious freedom.

The request comes on the 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 8802, which prohibited employment discrimination by defense contractors based on race, creed, color, or national origin. Following this pronouncement, subsequent presidents have expanded employment protections, adding both to the list of prohibited bases and extending these safeguards to all types of government contracts.

Executive Order 8802 was the precursor to many subsequent executive orders and laws protecting people from employment discrimination. In 2002, however, for the first time, President George W. Bush rolled back those basic protections by creating an exception that allows certain religious organizations to discriminate in hiring based on religion.

Groups are urging President Obama to correct this injustice and restore these crucial employment protections for all people seeking employment with organizations receiving federal funding. Many of the groups joining this effort, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, are members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, which is a broad and diverse coalition working with faith-based organizations and governmental agencies to ensure that religious liberty and civil rights remain protected when the government partners with communities of faith.

Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert:

“Organizations that discriminate should not receive federal money. It is wrong to use tax dollars to fund discrimination against any group—plain and simple. This is a particular concern for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people because there is an organized national anti-gay movement that is actively seeking to abuse religious teachings to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people. But public money simply cannot be used to discriminate.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.