Rep. Randy Hultgren, whose district covers most of Lake County, says he is concerned with President Barack Obama's latest plans for an executive order.
Recently, Obama announced that he would issue an order that would bar companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Hultgren's spokesman, Jameson Cunningham, said the congressman's feelings about the executive order resemble his stand on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit such discrimination by any employer with at least 15 employees. Both are unnecessary and redundant, Cunningham said.
“Our country is founded on protecting the intrinsic dignity and liberty of all Americans, and respecting their equality before the law," Hultgren, R-Winfield, said in an emailed statement to Lake County Suburban Life. "I am concerned ENDA would create special privileges, backed up by coercive enforcement, create unnecessary constraints on employers and threaten the First Amendment freedom of religious liberty."
He said employers should be able to make hiring decisions "based on their conscience and what is in the best interests of their business."
"Contrary to the president’s claim, it is my understanding that court precedent has already been set using laws already on the books to take action against these discriminatory hiring practices," Hultgren said.
Laurie Higgins of the Carol Stream-based Illinois Family Institute said her group strongly opposes both the planned executive order and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
"The problem is these terms 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity.' No one ever defines these terms," she said. "Most of us say that people should be protected based on behaviorally neutral conditions – sex, race, skin color. The one exception is religion, which has a special place in the history of this country, with relation to liberty."
"Homosexual and gender-confused activists are trying to carve out a niche for their behaviors and feelings," Higgins said. "On issues of homosexuality and gender confusion, our politicians on both sides are doing a pitiful job."
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, who represents the Barrington area, voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007, when the House last voted on it. His office couldn't be reached for comment on his position on the president's planned executive order.