National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Condemns the Discriminatory “Russell Amendment” to the National Defense Authorization Act

October 27, 2016
Washington, DC – The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBT community, strongly opposes Section 1094 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA) as passed by the House of Representatives.  As a matter of fairness and increased accessibility to the American Dream for all Americans, we urge fair-minded legislators to remove this amendment from the final legislation before it emerges from conference. This amendment is not just a state-sanctioned attack on LGBT workers, but also on women, individuals with disabilities, and many others whose civil rights and economic safety are at stake.
“This amendment doesn’t protect anyone, in fact it creates the potential for greater discrimination against already vulnerable communities.  NGLCC advocates for sound business policy and conditions conducive to economic growth.  At a time when our nation’s policy experts focus on ways to get more people to work, we shouldn’t be creating new ways to fire — or new ways to refuse to hire — women, people of color, those with disabilities, and LGBT Americans,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson.  “Even as we advocate for future protections for LGBT entrepreneurs and business owners, we decry this effort to roll back the clock on current protections for LGBT workers.”
NGLCC and its ever-growing network of corporate partners assert the economic benefits of non-discrimination in the private sector and have successfully made the business case for beating back heinous provisions such as this at the state and local level. The organization brings economic pressure from its Fortune 500 allies and certified LGBT-owned businesses to successfully defeat other so-called ‘religious freedom’ provisions nationwide.  
If enacted, Section 1094 would exponentially increase the scope of current religious exemptions in the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, allowing religiously affiliated organizations receiving federal funds —- whether through contract, subcontract, grant, cooperative agreement, or purchase order —to engage in discrimination.  Section 1094 also imperils protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, as this Section threatens the nondiscrimination protections embodied in President Obama’s Executive Order 13672, Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity by Contractors and Subcontractors.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is vital to the safety and security of the United States. It is inherently un-American to hijack this must-pass piece of legislation to attempt to enshrine discriminatory practices at a time when there is so much inaction in areas where people need to be protected from discrimination,” says NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell. “This amendment further underscores why NGLCC works with a diverse array of partners to advocate for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination policies for LGBT workers and business-owners alike.”
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The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC represents the interests of America’s 1.4 million LGBT business owners and is the exclusive certification body for LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs). | @NGLCC
Jonathan D. Lovitz
Senior Vice President

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