Fears Job Protections To Be Eroded
[WASHINGTON, DC] - There are growing fears that protections for gay and lesbian workers will be eroded under new laws being considered by the White House and Congress.
Plans by President Bush to privatize about half of the federal workforce would put tens of thousands of gays at the mercy of companies with no GLBT civil rights protections.
At the same time, a provision being considered in the Welfare Reform Bill would override state and local gay rights laws.
Under President Bush's plan, any federal worker who is privatized or out-sourced to a private company would no longer be covered under a 1998 executive order signed by then President Bill Clinton that prohibited
discrimination based on sexual orientation in the civil service.
The National Stonewall Democrats has called on Bush to extend the executive order to cover privatization. So far there has been no response from the White House.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign is concerned about comments made by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in Monday's Washington Post.
Santorum is quoted as saying that he supports a provision that would allow faith-based groups that receive federal funding for community service programs to discriminate against gays and lesbians in hiring - even in cases where local and state non-discrimination laws are already in place. "I will make that stand," said Santorum.
"Senator Santorum is not only suggesting that the federal government help fund discrimination against gays and lesbians with tax dollars, but his support for such a provision would also override state and local non-discrimination laws across the country," said HRC Political Director
To date, HRC has not opposed religious exemptions for hiring laws, as long as the groups and organizations are not using federal money. For example, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, federal legislation that would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in hiring, includes language from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that exempts religious organizations and permits them to favor members of their own religion.
"Generally speaking, Americans are in favor of equality and fair-mindedness. It is totally inappropriate to consider funding
discrimination with public money," said Stachelberg. "HRC is eager to work with allies in both parties to support fairness in funding and hiring for all Americans, including the gay and lesbian community."