The Department of Labor on Friday
issued a memo that appears to allow federal contractors to
discriminate against LGBT employees.
In 2014, former President Barack Obama
signed an executive order that prohibits companies and non-profits
that do $10,000 a year or more in business with the federal
government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and
Friday's memo, signed by Craig E. Leen,
acting director of the DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance,
instructs personnel to take into account “religious freedom” when
enforcing Obama's executive order.
In his memo, Leen noted the Supreme
Court's recent finding in Masterpiece Cakeshop, in which the
high court sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for
a gay couple's wedding reception. He stated that the department aims
to “incorporate recent developments in the law regarding
religion-exercising organizations and individuals” as they relate
to enforcement of Obama's order.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the
Supreme Court made clear that its ruling applied only to that case
and the facts surrounding it.
In a press release, the National Center
for Transgender Equality noted that language on the Labor
Department's website stating that no religious exemptions would be
made has been deleted.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC)
condemned the memo.
“The Trump-Pence war against the
LGBTQ community never fails to find a way to discriminate against
LGBTQ people in every facet of life,” DNC chair Tom Perez, a former
Secretary of Labor, said in a statement. “They have attacked their
health care; they have attacked their right to serve their country;
and now, once again, they have attacked their employment opportunity.
Our government is supposed to protect the rights of every American.
Instead, this administration has used taxpayer-funded federal
agencies to enforce their agenda of discrimination and bigotry.”
Late last month, Attorney
General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a task force on
Sessions' “religious liberty” task force is an attack on LGBTQ
people, Chad Griffin says.)