President Trump is joined by Vice President Pence for an Executive Order signing" by Shealah Craighead / Public Domain

Religious Freedom Arguments Give Rise To Executive Order Battle

Nov 17, 2020

By Tom Gjelten

Key government policies on religious freedom and discrimination, once set through legislation, are increasingly dictated by presidential orders, meaning they shift capriciously from one administration to the next.

In 2014, advocates for LGBTQ rights cheered when President Barack Obama unilaterally issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in their hiring practices on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Four years later, the Trump administration weakened that order with a unilateral move directing that contractors facing a discrimination claim under Obama’s order should be entitled to a “religious exemption.”

The Labor Department then proposed a rule that would give the directive the force of law and permit faith-based contractors to give hiring preference to individuals with particular religious beliefs, such as an opposition to same-sex unions or transgender identities.

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