Bitter rift over whether Obama should exempt religious groups from order barring anti-gay bias

  • Article by: DAVID CRARY , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 9, 2014 - 1:45 PM

In the intensifying debate over religious liberty, President Barack Obama faces pressure from opposite flanks as he prepares to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender people in hiring.

Many religious leaders and conservative groups want him to exempt religious organizations from the order. Liberal clergy and gay-rights groups adamantly oppose such an exemption.

The upshot is a difficult balancing act for the White House, which says the executive order is still being drafted — nearly a month after Obama announced he would sign it. White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to say whether a religious exemption would be included.

Within the past two weeks, scores of religious leaders of contrasting views have signed letters to Obama, arguing for and against an exemption.

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