A picture of Representative Jerrold Nadler
Jerrold N.
Democrat NY 10

About Rep. Jerrold
  • Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 4909, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

    by Representative Jerrold Nadler

    Posted on 2016-05-18

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    NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this rule for a number of reasons: because it doesn't make a proper AUMF in order, because it fails to make in order an amendment I cosponsored along with Representatives Dent, Smith, and several others.

    The bill contains language adopted by the Committee on Armed Services at 1 in the morning the other day with no warning that would effectively overturn President Obama's executive order protecting LGBT workers for companies with private contracts. In other words, private contractors using our Federal tax dollars in any area--not just in the defense area, by the way--would be allowed to fire someone just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. This is unacceptable, it is cruel, and it is totally unnecessary.

    Now, the distinguished gentleman said that the language contains nothing referring to gay or lesbian people; it simply protects religious liberty. It says that private contractors, in the exercise of their religious liberty, may discriminate. It disallows the President's executive order, and so the effect is that private contractors may discriminate on the basis of sexual identity or gender if that is their religious belief.

    No one has said it for years on this floor, but they used to, that it is okay to say: My religious belief says I shouldn't hire a Black person or a Jewish person.

    We don't think that is acceptable, and we don't call that religious liberty. But we now call religious liberty the ability of a private contractor to fire someone or refuse to hire them just because they are gay or lesbian. That is cruel and unacceptable.

    Why not allow the House to vote on whether or not to include this type of hateful language in the defense bill? Why not allow a vote on the Dent-Smith amendment? Must we let this bigotry and intolerance win the day? We ought to defeat this rule. I, for one, will not vote for the entire bill if this language is included in it. We must strip this toxic, hateful measure from the NDAA, if not through an amendment, then in conference. We ought to ensure that no Federal contractor has the ability to fire someone just because of who they are or who they love and because they profess that it is their religious belief. So they cannot be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on hiring and firing other people. We must continue to fight until all Americans have the rights they deserve.

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