BY JOHN SHIMEK
Faithful Catholics have been focused on President Obama’s contraceptive mandate for some time now. But, the fight for religious freedom just entered a new round. Another assault on First Amendment protections just reared its ugly head. News of it broke Monday morning.
Get set, folks. This is serious stuff.
This morning, Buzzfeed – “The Media Company for the Social Age” – broke the news that the White House is drafting an executive order that would bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Buzzfeed reported that “the order likely would either amend an earlier executive order signed by President Lyndon Johnson banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin or would be modeled after that order.”
Federal contractors? Discrimination? Sounds uninteresting, right? After all, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself claims that LGBT individuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” And, that same Catechism adds that “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358). This new executive order is a hill of beans, isn’t it?
What the Obama White House is doing is drafting another executive order that sends one more sucker punch right into the gut of the American Catholic Church.
Even the left-of-center National Catholic Reporter understands what is at stake. Fr. Thomas Reese claims that “Depending on what exemptions [the executive order provides], the new requirement may affect Catholic Relief Services, Catholic hospitals, Catholic education, and other Catholic charities that received Federal funds.”
Bottom line: The HHS Mandate hit health care workers and institutions. This new assault? Basically, it hits all the rest of the Church’s charitable social services. In other words, the Obama White House is casting the net of its progressive agenda much further and wider this time.
What practical impact could this executive order have? Picture this. A Catholic archdiocesan or diocesan adoption service, that needs federal monies in order to function, announces plans to place children in traditional families comprised of one father and one mother. Such a plan would violate the new executive order being drafted. What happens next? A phone call from the Feds? Burdensome fines? At this juncture, we don’t know. But, perhaps history is prologue.
Fr. Reese reports that “In 2010, the Washington archdiocese … got out of the adoption business when gay marriage became legal in the city. It was also threatened with the loss of funding to help the poor when the city council required that employers with city contracts provide spousal benefits to gay employees. Instead, the charities eliminated spousal benefits for all future employees. Since heterosexual employees would not receive spousal benefits, the agencies could not be accused of discrimination.”
That same scenario has played itself out elsewhere.