Anti-LGBT+ language removed from the must-pass defense spending bill

The controversial “Russell Amendment” to the defense spending bill, which would have undermined President Obama’s executive order barring LGBT+ workplace discrimination by federal contractors, has been removed by Republicans to ensure the bill’s passage.

The amendment, inserted by Rep. Steve Russell, allowed “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” to engage in anti-LGBT+ discrimination based on religious freedom. The vagueness of “religious corporations” and precedent set by the 2014 Hobby Lobby case could have allowed any federal contractor the ability to claim this exception.

Trump has pledged to promote so-called “religious freedom” once he takes office, and senior Republican Armed Services Committee aides confirm this remains a “very important issue” for 2017. Many anticipate that Trump will rescind Obama’s executive order when he takes office.

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