President Barack Obama is considering a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if an amendment that challenges his radical LGBT agenda is included.
The annual piece of legislation addresses budget and expenditures by the United States Department of Defense and has only been vetoed a handful of times within the past 50 years. As The Daily Signal observes, Obama vetoed the NDAA last year mainly because he refused to increase defense spending if the budget for his non-military programs was not increased as well.
This year, Obama is threatening to veto the NDAA over the Russell Amendment, a measure that simply restates what is currently law in the United States via the First Amendment.
As analysts Roger Severino and Melanie Israel report at the Signal, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Steve Russell’s amendment “applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts.”
For example, faith groups that run adoption facilities and hold a belief in traditional marriage have not been barred in the past from receiving federal grants and contracts. So, too, religious groups have a right to hire individuals who are committed to living out the beliefs of their faith. The fact that Obama is willing to veto the NDAA over a restatement of what has been an application of the First Amendment is yet another sign of his design to transform the country.
The authors write:
Obama’s veto threat is actually the strongest proof of why the Russell Amendment is needed. It shows that the president wants absolute freedom to discriminate against religious social service providers that interact with the government—all because many religious organizations won’t endorse the LGBT cause. Congress should say no to the president’s blatant attack on religious diversity.
Obama would interpret existing religious protections narrowly in order to make religious groups bend to the LGBT agenda. As seen in the administration’s education and health care mandates on gender identity, in practice, this means requiring employee bathrooms and showers meant for women be opened to biological men who self-identify as female regardless of people’s religious beliefs on the matter. The administration’s proven lack of respect for religious freedom when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity policies is more than enough reason to keep the Russell Amendment.
Senate Democrats, led by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, joined Obama in what they claim is an amendment that would permit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, reports Roll Call. The Democrats expressed concern such a provision could undermine Obama’s prior executive order that prohibits groups with federal contracts from claiming their First Amendment rights.
“The Russell Amendment is one of the most significant threats to LGBT people and women we have seen in Congress in years,” said ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling. “It must be removed from the defense bill — freedom, equality and fairness are at stake.”
Dissident group “Catholics for Choice” tweeted its hostility toward the Russell Amendment:
— Catholics for Choice (@Catholic4Choice) October 25, 2016
As did Planned Parenthood:
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) October 25, 2016
Advocates for the First Amendment and religious freedom, however, say Obama is once again using Americans to advance his own political agenda.
“The Obama administration and its left-wing allies are engaged in yet another attempt to undermine religious liberty in America, and this time they’re using America’s military as pawns,” said Heritage Action vice president Dan Holler. “The Russell Amendment simply reaffirms and reapplies longstanding federal protections of religious liberty.”