Tony Perkins, president of the Christian conservative Family Research Council (FRC), on Thursday praised a proposed rule change that would expand religious exemptions to an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination among federal contractors.

The U.S. Labor Department's proposal would exempt companies with a “self-identified religious purpose” from regulations prohibiting discrimination in hiring. President Barack Obama in 2014 expanded the regulations to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

(Related: Jerrold Nadler calls for passage of Equality Act in response to Trump's plan to “gut” LGBT order.)

Perkins, whose group has been labeled a “hate group” for its opposition to LGBT rights by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), praised the proposed change in a statement.

“Given recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court protecting religious liberty, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule clarifying the rights of religious employers to contract with the Department without being forced to violate their conscience rights,” Perkins said.

“This is in keeping with our nation’s history of respect for moral and religious beliefs.”

“Family Research Council applauds the Department for taking steps to ensure that religious employers are free to operate according to their religious beliefs without fear of government punishment,” he added.