A new Trump administration directive allows anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. The directive specifically exempts any faith-based organization – a “religious corporation” – that has a federal contract from anti-discrimination requirements, and wrongly cites the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision to do so.
A U.S. Dept.of Labor directive issued Friday and signed by Craig E. Leen, the Acting Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) actually takes language from the SCOTUS ruling and mis-applies it.
Federal contractors employ about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce. Nico Lang at INTOwas the first to report on the new directive.
The new policy memo directs OFCCP staff reviewing contracts and contractors that they “cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices” and must “proceed in a manner neutral toward and tolerant of . . . religious beliefs.”
That is language taken directly from the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece ruling.
The directive also cites the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, and states: “faith-based and community organizations, to the fullest opportunity permitted by law, to compete on a level playing field for . . . [Federal] contracts.”
That language appears to be taken directly from a May White House memo rebranding the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
But legal experts are crying foul, saying the OFCCP’s directive misinterprets the Supreme Court cases. For example, the Masterpiece ruling stated the Colorado Commission that ruled against the anti-gay Christian baker had acted with animus toward his religion. It did not state that anti-LGBT discrimination was now legal or acceptable.
Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, adds that the memo is actually “contrary to established law.”
“This directive seems designed to undermine the current requirement that federal contractors may not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told INTO. “In the past, the Department of Labor has made clear that religious contractors may prefer members of their religion, but may not discriminate on any of those bases.”
“By eliminating that important qualification, the new directive is confusing at best and at worst sends a dangerous and false message that such discrimination is now permitted,” he continues.
Minter calls the memo “contrary to established law.”
And the Human Rights Campaign in a Monday night email says the DOL is “encouraging federal contractors to discriminate against their LGBTQ employees.” HRC notes that at “the same time” the new directive was published, the “DOL also removed information from its website concerning frequently asked questions about nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people and the limited scope of allowable religious exemptions.”
“Previously, the site made clear religious organizations receiving federal contracts may prefer members of their religion, but no exemption would be granted for discrimination against an employee ‘on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.’ That language has now been deleted.“