Wasserman Schultz Condemn Reports of an Executive Order that would Permit Discriminatory Religious Exemptions

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) and 20 Jewish House Members of Congress wrote President Trump today urging him not to exempt any federally funded, faith-based organizations from current nondiscrimination protections. Wasserman Schultz and the Members sent the letter after press reports indicated that Trump would issue an Executive Order that would allow federally funded groups to discriminate based on religious objections. Wasserman Schultz and organizations supportive of the letter issued the following statements:

“The use of religious faith as a tool to discriminate contradicts a core American value, and the principles of social justice and equality so central to our Jewish faith,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The ability to worship and believe in accordance with one’s faith is a cherished freedom, but it does not override the rights of other Americans to live their truth, to receive necessary health care services, or seek employment. There should be no policy, carve-out, or exemption that would enable federally funded religious organizations to discriminate against others.”

The letter is endorsed by several leading religious and civil and human rights groups, including: American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Anti-Defamation Laegue, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Human Rights Campaign, Keshet, National Council of Jewish Women, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

“President Trump’s draft executive order is a sweeping departure from decades of precedent to create a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people using taxpayer money,” said David Stacy, the Government Affairs Director at the Human Rights Campaign.  “People of faith across the country agree that religious discrimination has no place in our federal government, and we applaud the leadership of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and the other Members signing this letter for speaking out against this harmful proposal.”

"Keshet is proud to stand with Jewish members of Congress -- and people of conscience everywhere -- in condemning any restrictions on civil and human rights in the name of religious freedom,” said Idit Klein, Executive Director of Keshet. “We believe that using religion to justify discrimination is antithetical to the core values of every faith tradition, including Judaism. As Jews, we act for the dignity and respect of all people not despite our religious tradition but because of it."

“As an American Jewish organization which provides aid to Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others in 19 of the poorest countries in the world, we are gravely concerned about any executive order or policy that would result in the U.S. government endorsing any one religion’s values, imposing them on others and allowing them to justify, even unintentionally, discrimination,” said Robert Bank, president and CEO of American Jewish World Service.

Among the Representatives who signed the letter to President Trump: David N. Cicilline, Jacky Rosen, Jerrold Nadler, Bradley S. Schneider, Steve Cohen, Theodore E. Deutch, Sander M. Levin, Susan Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Alan Lowenthal, Jamie Raskin, Josh Gottheimer, John Yarmuth, Nita M. Lowey, Suzanne Bonamici, Jared Polis, Lois Frankel, Eliot L. Engel, Brad Sherman and Adam B. Schiff.

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