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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 9, 2003

Wilson and Pearce vote to repeal current civil rights protections

WASHINGTON - Congresswoman Heather Wilson and Congressman Steve Pearce voted Thursday to repeal federal protections in HR 1261 to permit religious discrimination. The legislation passed. The bill eliminates current standards for employees of job training organizations. The bill allows organizations receiving federal funds to discriminate in hiring based on religion, according to the Committee on Education and the Workforce minority website.

In a letter to the Congress from the ranking member, George Miller, Miller said the bill would have catastrophic consequences. "The Supreme Court has never ruled on federally-funded religious discrimination, and no one can be certain how it will rule, but it is a grave policy error to roll back decades of civil rights to allow explicit religious discrimination in federally-funded jobs," Miller and his colleagues said in the letter.

WilsonWatch is concerned with the support of this legislation by Rep. Wilson and Rep. Pearce. "Congress should advocate civil liberties, but instead we have Wilson and Pearce eliminating crucial protections and encouraging discrimination in the workplace," WilsonWatch's Travis Green said. He concluded by pointing out, "Senator Hatch originally created these protections against religious discrimination in the early 1980s, and President Reagan signed them into law. What happened to the leadership in this country?"

The American Civil Liberties Union came out against the legislation in a news release Wednesday. "These protections, supported by both civil rights and religious groups, were put in place to ensure that publicly funded religious groups comply with the same civil rights laws that apply to everyone else using federal dollars," said Christopher Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Travis Green - green@wilsonwatch.org

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