Senate Democrats scrambling to kill anti-LGBT provision in defense spending bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are intent on scuttling a House-passed provision that they say would undercut protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation.

In a letter delivered Tuesday to the leaders of the Armed Services committees, the lawmakers called the measure dangerous and urged that it not be included in the annual defense policy bill. They said the provision would amount to government-sponsored discrimination by permitting religiously affiliated federal contractors to refuse to interview a job candidate whose faith differs from theirs and to fire employees who marry their same-sex partners or use birth control.

But Republican proponents of the measure have described the provision as a bulwark for religious freedom.

Forty lawmakers, joined by two independents, signed the letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairmen of the Armed Services panels.

The provision is at odds “with the values and beliefs that continue to advance our great nation,” according to the letter, yet there is no overt threat in the letter to block the defense authorization bill if the measure is added.

“This discrimination erodes the freedoms that our military has fought for generations to protect,” the lawmakers wrote.

The House added the provision to its version of the defense policy bill. The Senate did not, leading to a standoff. The divide could threaten the timely approval of the defense legislation, which authorizes military programs for the new fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

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Source: Senate Democrats scrambling to kill anti-LGBT provision in defense spending bill


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