This Executive Order Is Totally Gay

This morning, President Obama signed an EO prohibiting federal contractors and employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in their hiring practices. Passing along a draft of the order, Geidner highlights what will likely be its most controversial feature:

Notably, the draft of Obama’s order contains no additional religious exemptions for the sexual orientation or gender identity provisions beyond those already contained in the existing executive orders, a request made by some religiously affiliated leaders. At the same time, however, the order does not take action requested by some civil rights groups to rescind an executive order issued by President George W. Bush. The Bush order provides an exemption to Executive Order 11246 for any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to hire people of “a particular religion.”

That strikes me as a reasonable position, although I find any enmeshment of government funds with religious groups to be corrosive of both. My preference would be for no religious exemption at all – for reasons I laid out here.

When Obama’s intent to sign the order was announced on Friday, Dreher lost it:

I’ve been telling y’all for years now that the advance of gay rights will come at the expense of religious liberty. This is a prime example. Note that the pro-Obama religious leaders weren’t asking Obama not to issue the executive order banning discrimination against gays in federal contracting; they were only asking for tolerance for religious organizations that serve the public good, but cannot for reasons of religious principle obey the new dictate. There will be no toleration. Error has no rights.

Not if you take public money, Rod. The government should not be countenancing discrimination against a group of its own citizens, period. What the religious right is asking for is to have the government largess and to discriminate on top of it. No dice. Mataconis counters:

As a start, of course, Dreher engages in some extreme question begging here, because one has to wonder exactly how refusing to hire someone solely because they are gay, lesbian, or transgendered, or discriminating against them in salary or work conditions based on those facts, has suddenly become “religious liberty.” …

As for the broader issue, what people like Dreher seem to be arguing is that employers with strongly held religious beliefs should be able to discriminate based on sexual orientation notwithstanding a generally applicable law such as the regulations discussed here. If that’s the case, though, then does that mean that an employer who claims to have a religious objection to women working outside the home should be able to refuse to hire married women, or that someone who claims to have a religious objection to racial equality should be able to refuse to hire blacks? Where, exactly, should the line on what a valid “religious belief” is be drawn, and who gets to draw it?

It gets drawn at gays and women alone. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?