The Obama Administration is poised to require faith-based recipients of federal grants to accept applications from LGBT individuals, according to a report published today by the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam).
By executive order last summer, President Obama amended the Johnson-era federal order on non-discrimination in hiring by federal contractors to include non-discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.” That order has roiled faith-based groups.
A confidential source tells C-Fam that the White House has directed federal agencies to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes in all grant agreements.
What’s more, there are substantially more grant recipients than federal contract recipients. A law professor who works on these issues said, “For every contract recipient there are 50 receiving grants.”
The Johnson-era order was amended in 2002 by President George Bush to include a religious exemption so that faith-based groups would not be forced to hire those in opposition to their teachings. It is unclear whether grant recipients have similar protections. And even those protections are under assault by those who want all such exemptions ended.
According to C-Fam, federal agencies are now being pressured to make this change without a subsequent executive order and that the State Department legal office is telling the White House that this is not a legal matter but a matter of policy.
C-Fam’s source also said that some agencies are hesitant but because of pressure from the White House they are reluctant to object.
Faith-based groups, still grappling with the contracting question, are being caught off guard by this new policy on grants. None of the groups contacted by C-Fam were aware of the new policy.
The office of Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who also heads the Bishop’s committee on religious freedom, wouldn’t comment. Neither would Anthony Picarello, General Counsel of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Catholic agencies would be hit particularly hard by such a change.
At the time of the executive order last summer, two Bishop-Chairmen of the USCCB said the order was “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.”