On Tuesday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) offered an amendment to the Congressional budget that could force the federal government to maintain contracts with organizations that do not treat their gay employees equally.
The amendment, as read into the Congressional record, dictates that “Federal agencies do not discriminate against an individual, business, or organization with sincerely held religious beliefs against abortion [or] that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
This seems to be an attempt to undermine the executive order President Obama signed last year requiring all federal contractors to adhere to LGBT nondiscrimination protections. An organization could employ gay workers and even provide benefits to their same-sex spouses but openly condemn their marriages, creating the kind of chilly work environment that could constitute de facto discrimination, and the federal government would be required to continue funding that organization with taxpayer money.
The executive order maintains a loophole instituted by President George W. Bush that allows religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion. Many Catholic organizations, as an example, do not fire people for being gay, but have fired people for entering into a same-sex marriage, a violation of Catholic doctrine. Inhofe’s amendment would seemingly shore up that exemption, adding an extra layer of protection to organizations who oppose same-sex marriage and use that belief to justify anti-gay employment discrimination.
Inhofe’s amendment notably only protects the religious beliefs of those who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage, saying nothing about protecting those whose religion teaches them to respect women’s bodies or celebrate same-sex couples’ relationships.
Inhofe has long been an opponent of LGBT equality, co-sponsoring the 2005 Federal Marriage Amendment, co-sponsoring a more recent “license to discriminate” bill, and boasting that no one “in the recorded history” of his family has ever been in “any kind of homosexuality relationship.”
His amendment is one of countless offered to the budget resolution and may never even come up for consideration.