Powerful faith leaders ask Obama for special exemption on upcoming LGBT executive order

In a sign that the White House’s trenchant liberalism could be alienating even supporters, some of the country’s largest religious groups are asking the Obama administration to carve out an exception to an executive order President Obama plans to issue forbidding discrimination against gays and lesbians.

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Photo: CNN

 Rev. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, and other religious groups want their beliefs to be respected while the employment rights of gays are protected, according to The Atlantic.

“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 groups wrote in a letter to Obama.

The letter comes a week after the Hobby Lobby decision, in which the Supreme Court upheld the freedom of closely held companies to refuse to pay for certain types of birth control the companies believe constitute abortion – a violation of the companies owners’ religious beliefs.

And while that decision has been widely hailed by Obama’s conservative opponents and denounced by liberals, the letter seeking exemptions to the gay-rights order comes from groups that actively supported Obama’s election.

Its organizers include Michael Wear, who directed Obama’s political outreach to religious groups in the 2012 campaign, as well as members of the group Catholics for Obama and former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, The Atlantic reported.

They’re chief concern is an executive order planned by the White House that would ban most federal contractors from discriminating against gays, lesbians or transgender individuals.

A proposed federal law that would ban discrimination against gays already exempts religious organizations, but that law is bottled up in the Senate and is unlikely to get to a vote in the House any time soon, which is why the executive order is being planned.

The text of the order hasn’t been released, so it’s not clear how religious groups with moral objections to homosexuality could be affected. However, because many of the groups receive federal money that supports their charitable efforts, the order could put them in direct conflict between their faith and their funding.

“Without a robust religious exemption … this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity, and religious freedom,” the letter states.

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