Our co-director, Mary E. Hunt, signed on to a letter asking President Obama to reject allowing for a religious exemption in his upcoming executive order for equal treatment for LGBTIQ people in the workplace. Learn more at ThinkProgress, and read the letter below.
July 8, 2014President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20500 C/O Melissa Rogers, Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Dear Mr. President,
As faith and civic leaders dedicated to affirming the sacred dignity and equal worth of every person, we are grateful for your upcoming executive order ending discrimination against LGBT people in hiring by federal contractors. We urge you not to include a religious exemption in the executive order. In keeping with the principle that our government must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and fairness in its own operations, we believe that public dollars should not be used to sanction discrimination.
We recognize in others, and have ourselves heard, a faithful calling to contribute to our communities and country through public service. The imperative to seek healing and justice is one of the most widely shared values across religious traditions and our world is better because of it.
In our democratic nation, we believe that public service—especially when it is directly supported by the federal government and our tax dollars—must be aligned with the Constitutional principle that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. Requiring all federal contractors to operate according to the same set of non-discriminatory hiring practices is more than fair; it is a critical safeguard that protects all parties. If contractors were allowed to selectively follow employment or other laws according to their religious beliefs, we would quickly create an untenable morass of legal disputes. Furthermore, if selective exemptions to the executive order were permitted, the people who would suffer most would be the people who always suffer most when discrimination is allowed: the individuals and communities that are already marginalized. Increasing the obstacles faced by those at the margins is precisely the opposite of what public service can and should do, and is precisely the opposite of the values we stand for as people of faith.
In a nation as diverse as the United States of America, it is critical that the federal government be trusted to follow—and indeed, to role-model—equitable employment practices. We believe that our mutual commitment to the common good is best served by policies that prohibit discrimination based on factors that have no relationship whatsoever to job performance. We are better and stronger as a nation when hiring decisions are made based on professional merit rather than personal identity.
An executive order that allows for religious discrimination against LGBT people contradicts the order’s fundamental purpose, as well as the belief shared by more and more Americans every day, which is that LGBT people should not be treated as second-class citizens. An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora’s Box inviting other forms of discrimination.
In addition to protecting current and potential employees, we believe ensuring that federal contractors do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in their hiring helps to reduce the likelihood that these contractors will discriminate against clients or other parties in the provision of services. If contractors are free to discriminate in their hiring, it is at least plausible, if not probable, to conclude that clients will experience discrimination as well. We believe that the best way to eliminate discrimination at one level is to reduce discrimination at all levels.
We are a pluralistic nation—one that is among the most religiously diverse and devout in the world. Each day we continue to make progress on our journey toward “a more perfect union,” in which all God’s children are treated with fairness and dignity. Many forces help spur this progress. They include the courage of everyday people who live openly as who they truly are; the witness of faith leaders who provide a compass for religious growth; the commitment of political leaders such as yourself who help guide our nation toward a more just path; and the passage of laws and policies that ensure fair treatment for all people.
In conclusion, Mr. President, we believe that the path to national unity lies in affirming the full equality and potential of every person. In the spirit of equality, fairness, and justice, we urge you to issue an executive order that ends discrimination against LGBT people in federal contracting without exceptions.
In Faith,Imam Daayiee Abdullah Light of Reform Mosque, Washington, DC Dr. Michael J. Adee Director, Global Faith and Justice Project Rev. Dr. Susan R. Andrews Moderator of the 215th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA) Rabbi Jonathan Adland Clergy Advocacy Board, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Rev. Dr. Jim Antal Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Ed Bacon Rector, All Saints Church, Pasadena Karen Barr Moderator, GLAD Alliance, Inc. The Most Rev. Craig Bergland Presiding Bishop, Universal Anglican Church Matthew Berryman Executive Director, Reconciling Ministries Network Rev. Geoffrey Black General Minister and President, United Church of Christ Rabbi Richard Block President, Central Conference of American Rabbis Rabbi Sharon Brous Founding Rabbi, IKAR, Los Angeles Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock Director, Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker-Langston Executive Director, Disciples Center for Public Witness Rev. Pat Bumgardner Executive Director, Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches Rev. Dr. Marjorie L. Coons-Torn Conference Minister, Penn Central Conference, United Church of Christ Stosh Cotler
Chief Executive Officer, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice Rev. Richard W. Cowles, Jr. Interim Conference Minister, Maine Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree Interim Conference Minister, Florida Conference, United Church of Christ Ann Craig, M.Div. Director of Administration, The Fellowship Global Rev. Jennifer D. Crumpton Park Avenue Christian Church, New York City Rev. Fred Davie Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York Francis DeBernardo Executive Director, New Ways Ministry Rev. Dr. John Deckenback Conference Minister, Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre Professor of Social Ethics and Latino/a Studies, Iliff School of Theology Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer Conference Minister, Southwest Conference, United Church of Christ Marianne Duddy-Burke Executive Director, DignityUSA Rev. Roddy Dunkerson Conference Minister, Nebraska Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Beverley F. Edwards Interim Conference Minister, Rhode Island Conference, United Church of Christ Rabbi Denise Eger Senior Rabbi, Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood Rev. Brian D. Ellison Executive Director, Covenant Network of Presbyterians Rabbi Marla J. Feldman Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism Jim FitzGerald Executive Director, Call To Action Rev. Dr. Allen Fluent Acting Conference Minister, Missouri Mid-South Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Rabbi Steve Fox Chief Executive Officer, Central Conference of American Rabbis Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy President, Interfaith Alliance Rev. David R. Gaewski Conference Minister, New York Conference, United Church of Christ Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL Executive Coordinator, National Coalition of American Nuns Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich Senior Pastor, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, New York City Dr. Edith Guffey Conference Minister, Kansas and Oklahoma Conference, United Church of Christ Rev. Debra W. Haffner President and Chief Executive Officer, Religious Institute The Very Reverend Gary R. Hall Dean, Washington National Cathedral Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson President, Auburn Theological Seminary Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt President, Chicago Theological Seminary Dr. Mary E. Hunt Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) Rabbi Rick Jacobs President, Union for Reform Judaism Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo Executive Minister, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, Ph.D. Senior Director, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, Pacific School of Religion Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
President, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York Senior Bishop Zachary G. Jones Unity Fellowship Church Movement Nancy K. Kaufman Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Jewish Women Rev. Rob Keithan Director of Public Policy, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Frances Kissling President, Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy Idit Klein Executive Director, Keshet Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York City Rev. Harry Knox President and Chief Executive Officer, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Rabbi Debra Kolodny Executive Director, Nehirim Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan President, Claremont School of Theology Andy Lang Executive Director, Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church, New York City Rev. Odette Lockwood-Stewart Director of Field Education and Contextual Learning, Pacific School of Religion Rev. Dr. Cindi Love The Church of Uncommon Hope, Washington, DC Rev. Robin R. Lunn
Executive Director, Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists Rev. Barry Lynn Executive Director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State Ruth W. Messinger President, American Jewish World Service JamieAnn Meyers Transgender Representative and Board Member, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson Brown University Rev. Alan C. Miller Conference Minister, Penn Northeast Conference, United Church of Christ Dr. Randall Miller Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, Pacific School of Religion Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald President and Professor of Faith and Public Life, San Francisco Theological Seminary Rev. Brian McLaren The Cana Initiative Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt President, Starr King School for the Ministry Alex Patchin McNeill Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians Rev. Peter Morales President, Unitarian Universalist Association Rev. Darlene Nipper Deputy Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Jon O’Brien President, Catholics for Choice Marilyn Paarlberg Executive Director, Room for All, Reformed Church in America Rev. Dr. Rich Pleva Conference Minister, Iowa Conference, United Church of Christ Chett Pritchet Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action The Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale President and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School Dr. Hussein Rashid Founder, islamicate, L3C Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls Sacred Souls Community Church and the Freedom Center for Social Justice Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow Moderator of the 218th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA) Bishop Gene Robinson The Episcopal Church Rev. Canon Susan Russell Senior Associate Minister, All Saints Church, Pasadena Rabbi David Saperstein Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Dr. Bernard Schlager Interim President, Pacific School of Religion Bishop John Selders Bishop Presider, InterDenominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries Rev. Kent Siladi Conference Minister, Connecticut Conference, United Church of Christ Sandy Sorensen Director, United Church of Christ, Washington Office Rev. Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, Brite Divinity School Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan President, Disciples Justice Action Network Bishop Melvin G. Talbert The United Methodist Church Vivian Taylor Executive Director, Integrity USA Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite Professor of Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary Pastor Joseph Tolton Executive Director, The Fellowship Global Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt Divinity School Rev. John H. Vaughn Executive Vice President, Auburn Theological Seminary Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches Deb Word President, Fortunate Families
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