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Pennsylvania Gov. Bypasses Religious Freedom to Protect LGBT Community?

Faith-based groups in Pennsylvania are scrambling to find out how the governor’s new executive orders banning sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination will impact them.

On Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Republican, bypassed stalled legislation in the Statehouse and signed orders banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state contractors and grant recipients.

“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth based on the principle that it is open, diverse and inclusive for all people,” said Wolf.

A spokeswoman for Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, responded, “We find it ironic that the governor cites William Penn as the exemplar for inclusion knowing that he was a stalwart for religious freedom.”

Some states are seeking to protect religious freedom with laws allowing businesses and clergy to refuse to serve or perform gay wedding ceremonies if they have a religious objection.

Mike Greer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Council, blasted the governor’s move saying, “Pennsylvania is closed for business unless you agree with Gov. Wolf.”

He said the executive orders will pressure many faith-based groups that they need to comply with the governor or lose their state funding.

Jeffrey Sheridan, the governor’s press secretary, told CBN News that Wolf is aware of the concerns of faith groups.  “His office will work with affected parties to provide a process for granting waivers where appropriate,” said Sheridan.

The Wolf administration says the new orders will affect tens of thousands of future state contracts worth tens of billions of dollars a year.

The governor’s move bypasses stalled legislation that had the support of The Hershey Company as well as universities like Penn State.

Senate State Government Committee Chair Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, said he wanted to vet the bill to ensure it does not violate freedom of conscience or religious liberty.

More than 20 states have anti-discrimination laws that provide special protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Report via CBN News



 

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