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New federal rules could allow LGBTQ employees to be fired for religious reasons

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WASHINGTON — Media reported this week that the Trump administration is planning a new rule that would allow federal contractors to fire LGBTQ employees for religious reasons.

The rule, which can be seen here, would “update” regulations with the current law for exemptions with “religion-exercising organizations.”

Buzzfeed News reported that it could create a loophole in Obama-era protections for LGBTQ employees.

From Buzzfeed News:

The Trump administration is currently planning to create a formal religious-liberty regulation for businesses with federal contracts, which would create a loophole in an Obama administration policy protecting LGBT workers, according to several people familiar with the Labor Department’s plans who spoke to BuzzFeed News. Unlike the August directive, a regulation would carry more legal force and is tremendously difficult to undo.

It is unclear if the regulation will limit its scope to strictly religious corporations — for instance, a Jewish charity with a federal contract. The directive refers to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop, which concerned closely held, for-profit businesses with religious owners, not religious corporations.

On Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed on its website that the Labor Department “plans to update its regulations to comply with current law regarding protections for religion-exercising organizations.” A Labor Department spokesperson said the draft text is not available but is expected to be released in December. The spokesperson did not respond to questions about what qualified as a religious-exercising organization under the proposal.

The administration had already hinted that it would not enforce protections for LGBTQ employees of contractors and has been putting together a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to help organizations that want to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

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