(Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Conservative groups are speaking out against President Barack Obama's decision to draft an executive order aimed at banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees, arguing that the move will punish supporters of traditional marriage for their views.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, told The Christian Post in an email on Tuesday: "NOM does not support the President's actions. The reason is twofold: This is a decision that lawmakers should make, not something the president should attempt to impose through executive order."
He added: "Congress refused to take action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act earlier this year and the President should respect that. Second, NOM has opposed ENDA in the past because it will become a tool to force states to redefine marriage and be used to punish supporters of marriage."
A White House official announced on Monday that Obama has told his staff to prepare his signature for an Executive Order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, following up on the president's pledge to "expand opportunity for all Americans" this year.
"The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin," the official continued, according to The Hill. "This is consistent with the President's views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect."
Obama has not yet said when exactly he will sign the order, which could give Republicans in the House of Representatives the chance to take legislative action on the issue, though in the past they have refused to put ENDA to a vote.
While House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has called the bill redundant and argued that it would cost jobs by creating frivolous litigation, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, who sponsored ENDA, argued that most Americans don't realize that it's still legal in many states to fire someone for their sexual orientation.
Merkley said such discrimination not only "defies common sense" but also goes "wholly against who we are as a nation."
Other conservative groups have said that Obama's "personal preference" has been elevated above democracy, however.
"This is yet another example of what little regard President Obama has for the American people and our form of government. Democracy, once again, gets in the way of his personal preferences, and so he disregards it with little concern for the long-term implications of his actions. He does not help the 'LGBT' movement with his dictator-like actions, but only continues to divide and demonize people of faith who continue to believe as he claims he did not too long ago," said Mario Diaz, Concerned Women for America Legal Counsel.
"It is the most basic of American beliefs that every citizen should be free to practice their religion free from government intervention. But President Obama insists on punishing those who do not move along with him in his views on homosexuality and marriage to the point that he is willing to use the force of his executive power to violate the Constitution he swore to uphold."
Diaz also pointed out that other laws from the White House administration, including Obamacare, have forced religious believers to violate principles of their faith by paying insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, citing the Little Sisters of the Poor nun group and its objection to the Health and Human Services Mandate which went all the way to the Supreme Court.
"It is a sign of the President's radicalism, but also a testament of his poor leadership that he is unable and unwilling to engage Congress and the American people in a meaningful, civilized and respectful conversation and debate on these issues that are so important to us all," Diaz added. "It is sad that he instead feels the need to game the system to impose his will on the nation by executive action."