On Monday, the White House finalized a long-planned rule that allows faith-based contractors who work for the federal government to discriminate against LGBTQ+ employees.
The rule, which was originally proposed in August of 2019, attempts to “clarify” a 1965 executive order signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson that prohibits bias based on color, national origin, race, religion, or sex from federal contractors when hiring. In 2014, the Obama administration expanded these terms, including adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected groups.
The new policy push-through was announced in a press release by the Department of Labor (DOL), which claims to offer “clearer interpretation of the parameters of the religious exemption” to “encourage the full and equal participation of religious organizations as federal contractors.” Trump’s update to the executive order would allow religious organizations to discriminate against anyone, even the protected classes, claiming that it “acknowledges that religious organizations may prefer in employment ‘individuals of a particular religion,’ so that they can maintain their religious identity and integrity,” according to the press release.
The order would affect an estimated one-fifth of American workers estimated to be federal contractor employees. It’s set to go into effect on January 8th — just 12 days before President-elect Biden is to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
And while this new executive order is both expected and disappointing, it’s not likely to stick around for long. It’s expected that the President-elect would reverse the changes to the executive order soon after beginning the duties of the President. Biden has already promised to sign the Equality Act within his first 100 days in office and has vowed to help protect trans rights, so it’s not a reach to expect he’ll support the LGBTQ+ community on this issue as well.