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Who could have predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to empower religious organizations to start screaming for federal exemptions to everything they find icky? Pretty much everyone, actually, saw that coming and here's the first of it. A group of faith leaders, including an Obama supporter, has asked the administration to allow them to continue to discriminate against the gays in their hiring practices.

Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.

"We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need," the letter states. […]

It comes from as group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration, many of whom have closely advised the White House on issues like immigration reform. The letter was organized by Michael Wear, who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president's 2012 campaign. Signers include two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

"This is not an antagonistic letter by any means," Wear told me. But in the wake of Hobby Lobby, he said, "the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues."

The leaders state that without the religious exemption to the executive order on federal contractors, "this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom." They base their argument on both the new political reality of Hobby Lobby and on the fact that the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act includes such an exemption for religious organizations. The difference between ENDA and the pending executive order is that the latter applies only to federal contractors, not to all employers with more than 15 employees.

The White House hasn't released the order yet, and didn't comment on the issue to The Atlantic's Molly Ball, who reported this story.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 11:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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