The White House says it is opposed to
anti-LGBT language included in the House version of a major defense
Representative Steve Russell, a
Republican from Oklahoma, proposed language that would allow
religiously affiliated federal contractors to discriminate on the
basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2014, President
Barack Obama issued an executive order that prohibits contractors
doing business with the federal government from such discrimination.
The provision's lack of a definition
for “religious corporation” means that a court could interpret
this to include any federal contractor.
White House Press Secretary Josh
Earnest on Wednesday called the provision “ridiculous” but would
not say that it alone was reason to veto the bill.
“And the prospect that Republicans
would hold hostage funding for our national security unless the
president makes it easier for companies to discriminate against gay
people is ridiculous, but unfortunately consistent with the pattern
of behavior we've seen from Republicans in Congress over the past
several years,” Earnest
said. “So, the president does feel strongly about this, but
I'm not prepared to single out specific provisions.”
The language is not included in the
Senate version of the bill. The two bills must be reconciled to
produce a final bill.