Watch CBS News

Lightfoot Slams Trump After Department Of Labor Proposes 'Religious Exemption' In Hiring For Contractors

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot slammed President Donald Trump on Twitter Wednesday, after the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a rule that would allow federal contractors to make "employment decisions" based on their religious convictions.

In a news release, the Department of Labor noted that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes "a critical, protective exemption for religious organizations," and also emphasized the protections for religious organizations handed down by recent Supreme Court decisions.

"In keeping with that rich history, the proposed rule would clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government," the Labor Department said in the release. "The proposal also reaffirms employers' obligations not to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or other protected bases and does not exempt or excuse a contractor from complying with any other requirements."

In the release, Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pinzella characterized the rule as a protection for religious employers who wish to participate in federal contracting.

"Today's proposed rule helps to ensure the civil rights of religious employers are protected," Pinzella said in the release. "As people of faith with deeply held religious beliefs are making decisions on whether to participate in federal contracting, they deserve clear understanding of their obligations and protections under the law."

But the American Civil Liberties Union had a more sinister interpretation of the proposed rule, saying it stood to codify a right for federal contractors to use religious beliefs as an excuse for discrimination.

"The Department of Labor just proposed a rule that aims to let government contractors fire workers who are LGBTQ, or who are pregnant and unmarried, based on the employers' religious views," the ACLU said in a tweet. "This is taxpayer-funded discrimination in the name of religion. Period."

Mayor Lightfoot ook President Trump personally to task for the rule.

"Behind the tweets, the rallies and the rhetoric lies @realDonaldTrump's true agenda: hatred and discrimination," the mayor tweeted. "Instead of upholding the constitution and our values, he is coming for the people he thinks can't fight back. But we're fighting back. Nov 2020 can't come soon enough."

Lightfoot's slam against Trump Wednesday come just over a week after the mayor took the president's daughter to task in another conflict involving Twitter.

Ivanka Trump issued a factually incorrect last week tweet about gun violence in Chicago the prior weekend.

"She got the numbers wrong. She got the location wrong," Lightfoot said at a news conference. "That's the danger of trying to govern via tweet."

Ivanka Trump's tweet read: "As we grieve over the evil mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, let us not overlook that Chicago experienced its deadliest weekend of the year," she tweeted Tuesday morning. "With 7 dead and 52 wounded near a playground in the Windy City- and little national outrage or media coverage- we mustn't become numb to the violence faced by inner city communities every day."

That weekend was not the deadliest weekend of the year in Chicago. On the first weekend of June, eight people were shot and killed, and two more people were killed in stabbings. Eight people also were shot and killed the last weekend of July.

Further, there were no shootings that happened on a playground.

Lightfoot noted on Tuesday of last week that neither Ivanka Trump nor anyone else from the White House contacted the city before the tweet was issued.

"If they want to help, they should actually call us and ask for specifics, which we'd be happy to share, and we would offer them specific ways in which the federal government could actually partner with us to help address the issues on the ground," Lightfoot said. "But by sending out something like that – having zero contact with anybody in an official capacity in the city of Chicago – and then getting it wrong? That's not helpful."

Also Wednesday, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of 22 other state attorneys general to protest against a separate proposed new rule from the Department of Health and Human Services. Raoul's office said the proposal would roll back portions of the Affordable Care Act that now forbid discrimination in federal health care programs, services, and benefits.

Raoul and the other attorneys general said the proposed rule would limit a section of the ACA that now prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age.

The rule would roll back protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and Raoul's office said it would likely result in LGBTQ people avoiding seeking health care entirely.

Raoul's office said the proposal would also roll back protections against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and recovery from childbirth; reverse protections for nearly 25 million people who are not proficient in English, and reverse requirements that all providers accommodate people with disabilities.

"The department's proposal will eliminate protections that prohibit discrimination and remove barriers to health care for populations more likely to experience discrimination in health care – LGBTQ individuals, women, people with disabilities, and those who are not proficient speaking English," Raoul said in a news release. "I will continue to oppose policies that hinder access to critical health care services for anyone, particularly those who need it most."

The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia also signed onto the protest.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.