Gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign on Monday praised Republican senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the leading Senate Republican champion of President Bush's faith-based initiative, for agreeing to remove provisions in legislation that might have created a system of federally subsidized discrimination based on religion. In the past, religious discrimination has been used as a proxy for discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. "What we see here is tremendous synergy among Senator Santorum, the White House, and senators Joseph Lieberman and Tom Daschle--all standing together to put aside differences and advance legislation that spurs charitable donations without the potential for discrimination," said HRC political director Winnie Stachelberg.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 exempts religious organizations from discrimination in hiring and permits them to favor members of their own religion. The Supreme Court has never clarified whether that exemption would apply to religious organizations receiving public funding. Before the language was removed, HRC supported amending the language to ensure that federally funded discrimination in employment based on religion would be prohibited.
"HRC unequivocally opposes any legislation that would allow public money to be used to discriminate against any American," Stachelberg said.