Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement about the Russell amendment attacking LGBT rights that was included in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. During mark-up of the NDAA in committee, Democrats fought against efforts to expand religious organizations’ ability to conduct ‘taxpayer funded discrimination’ against LGBT individuals, women, and other groups.
“The language in the Russell amendment is a direct attack on LGBT rights. The president issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity by government contractors. The Russell amendment tries to override this executive order by artfully claiming to protect ‘religious freedom,’ but just like similar efforts in numerous state legislatures, this is actually an effort to promote discrimination. The language tries to protect the so-called ‘right’ to get government contracts and grants and still discriminate against people whose lifestyle you don’t approve of. Government-funded discrimination is wrong under any circumstances, and we certainly shouldn’t be trying to expand it in a defense policy bill.”