Religious Freedom and the Defense Spending Bill

The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, produced by members of the Senate and House Armed Services committees, does not include the Russell Amendment, which would have ensured that religiously affiliated nonprofits contracting with the federal government could hire on the basis of religious belief, even if that meant excluding LGBT job applicants.

This provision, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma, in April and included in the version of the NDAA passed by the House in May, was criticized by Democratic leaders and LGBT rights activists, who labeled it discriminatory. The White House had threatened to veto the bill, at least in part because of the Russell Amendment, if it passed in its House form.

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