A new rule from the Obama administration threatens to take away federal contracts from religious relief organizations and charities if they discriminate against LGBT people in providing services.
"This rule means that any organization that contracts with USAID must ensure that all people can benefit from its federally funded programs," National Security Advisor Susan Rice said during an event Wednesday at American University in Washington. "It's a major step towards ensuring that American assistance is provided in a fair and equitable manner."
However, Robert Severino, director of the Heritage Foundation, says the new rule will be an entirely new problem, rather than a solution.
"For example, disaster relief agencies may now be required to open their women's shower and sleeping facilities to biological males who self-identify as women or be stripped of all funding for alleged gender identity discrimination," Severino said.
According to a report in The Washington Times, private contractors and non-profits receive $16 billion in funding from USAID every year. That money often goes towards fighting poverty, starting schools, and eradicating disease.
Critics of the rule accuse the Obama administration of potentially taking away critical aid in an effort to push an LGBT agenda--just as it threatened to pull federal funding from schools that didn't comply with the Department of Education's transgender bathroom guidelines.
"The newest USAID rule is more than the latest in a long line of affronts and hostilities to traditional religious belief by the Obama administration; it's also a further delineation of priorities," Nate Madden writes in an article for Conservative Review.
"Time and again, we see that when the LGBT agenda conflicts with religious liberty, according to President Obama, religious liberty must lose," Severino said.
Gay rights organizations are now asking the Obama administration to expand the rule to cover discrimination in employment.
"While this is a step forward, we ultimately hope to see all implementers across all U.S. foreign affairs agencies — including USAID — include nondiscrimination policies that cover not only the services they provide, but also the people they hire," David Stacy, director of government affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said. "No organization supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars should turn anyone away because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."