Yesterday, HRC joined several organizations on Capitol Hill to deliver more than 340,000 petitions calling on Congress to reject the Russell Amendment, an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act which would sanction taxpayer funded discrimination. The petitions were delivered to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, who will decide if the Amendment will remain in the final version of the bill.
The Russell Amendment is an extremely harmful provision that was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the middle of the night, with no warning and little debate. The Russell Amendment would circumvent long-standing civil rights law to allow religious organizations that receive any federal grant or contract to discriminate against employees who don’t match their religious beliefs. Passing NDAA with this provision would roll back the hard-fought progress that we have made—including undermining President Obama’s executive order banning LGBTQ discrimination by federal contractors.
The Russell Amendment not only impacts the LGBTQ community, but it also allows for any discrimination on the basis of religion, whether that be wearing a hijab or simply for using birth control. HRC is working with a broad coalition of organizations to prevent the Amendment from becoming law.