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The Republican-majority House Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to gut President Barack Obama's executive orders that ban discrimination against LGBT people by all federal contractors. The Russell Amendment, sponsored by Oklahoma anti-gay Republican Steve Russell (photo), passed 33-29.
The Human Rights Campaign says "the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty."
HRC adds that the amendment, which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, "would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more."
The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, a coalition including 42 secular and religious organizations, sent a letter to the Committee to oppose the Russell Amendment, warning it "would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant. The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the 'wrong' religion."