Tell President Obama to Stop Federally Funded Discrimination

June 20, 2011

This Saturday, June 25, marks the 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 8802—the first executive order to bar federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on “race, creed, or national origin.” Several other presidents have expanded and strengthened these protections. One of the most important expansions is Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, which grants the Department of Labor the authority to enforce these protections. 

In 2002, however, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13279, which exempted religious organizations from Executive Order 11246, and allowed them to discriminate in hiring based on religion.

For over 60 years prior to the 2002 executive order, our government was strongly commitmed to the notion that no one would be discriminated against in federally funded jobs because of his or her religion. In a speech in Zanesville, Ohio, President Barack Obama affirmed his commitment to this principle by saying “if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them—or against the people you hire—on the basis of their religion.”

Yet nearly three years into his presidency, this practice is still in place. Urge President Obama to honor this momentous anniversary by living up to his campaign promise and righting the wrong President Bush did when he rolled back these traditional safeguards and core civil rights protections. Tell President Obama to stop allowing religious organizations to discriminate against federally funded employees on the basis of religion.

Take action now.