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July 02, 2014 3:46 PM Floodgates

By Ed Kilgore

A lot of us gabbers suggested yesterday that the Hobby Lobby decision might open the “floodgates” to new legal claims of “religious liberty” exemptions from various federal laws by “closely-held” for-profit corporations. But even as lawyers scurry to think about suits, there’s already pressure developing for regulatory exemptions on religious grounds, as Molly Ball notes at The Atlantic:

A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.
Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.
“We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need,” the letter states….
Last week, the administration announced it would issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a reform long sought by gay-rights groups. Such an order would essentially impose on contractors the provisions of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate but hasn’t been taken up by the House.

ENDA itself already has an exemption for religious organizations. So the letter in question aims at extending the “right” to non-compliance to private contractors taking advantage of the new Hobby Lobby loophole. And as Ball points out, this demand is emanating not from Christian Right groups, but from an assortment of ostensibly friendly sources, including “two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.” Unsurprisingly, Rick Warren, representing the much-favored category of conservative evangelicals who don’t openly demonize the president, is on the letter, too.

No time like the present, it seems, to get first through the door with a respectful request to discriminate.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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