This morning, the federal government took steps to implement a 2010 Executive Order that detailed fundamental principles for faith-based organizations receiving federal grant funding through a set of proposed rules published by nine federal agencies.
These regulations provide clarification regarding the protection of religious liberties of beneficiaries served by these organizations. No beneficiary should have to choose between honoring their own conscience and receiving federally funded services like housing, food, and disaster assistance.
The agencies publishing regulations today included the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Justice, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Most of these proposed agency regulations also require faith-based organizations to provide beneficiaries with written notice of their religious liberties and their right to receive services regardless of their religious beliefs, practices, or lack thereof. However, regulations published by USAID today do not include this notice requirement or an option for a referral to a secular provider.
While the regulations published today provide helpful clarification of existing requirements for faith-based organizations operating federally funded social programs, the administration has forfeited a critical opportunity to protect LGBT employees from taxpayer funded discrimination.
In the absence of clear, explicit protections employees of organizations receiving federal grants remain at risk for being fired solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As outlined in HRC's Blueprint for Positive Change in 2008 and again in 2015,
HRC urges the Obama administration to affirmatively end this discrimination in federally funded programs. Discrimination has no place in social services, especially those paid for by taxpayers.