When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent on the much-publicized Hobby Lobby case that the court’s decision”ventured into a minefield,” she wasn’t far from the truth. It hasn’t taken long for religious leaders across the nation to compose a letter to President Obama, asking certain organizations to be exempt from his upcoming executive order which bans discrimination against LGBT individuals who are employed as federal contractors.
The letter, first reported on in The Atlantic, essentially asks the President to include an exemption in his new executive order that would allow associations with certain religious beliefs to bypass the law. In short, these companies could refrain from hiring qualified LGBT candidates, citing “religious conviction.” A portion of the letter reads as follows:
“Americans have always disagreed on important issues, but our ability to live with our diversity is part of what makes this country great, and it continues to be essential even in this 21st century. This ability is essential in light of our national conversation on political and cultural issues related to sexuality. We have and will continue to communicate on these broader issues to our congregations, our policymakers and our nation, but we focus here on the importance of a religious exemption in your planned executive order disqualifying organizations that do not hire LGBT Americans from receiving federal contracts. […] Without a robust religious exemption, […] this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”
It is signed by a plethora of religious clergy, the CEO of Catholic Charities, a Director from the Catholic University of America, the CEO of the Center for Public Justice, and the National Faith Vote Director of the Obama 2012 campaign.
Clearly, the political and legal systems will have plenty to mull over after this week’s historic decision from the Supreme Court, but, as Justice Ginsburg so wisely wrote, we may be stepping into a minefield, indeed.