Gay rights looms as hurdle to passing defense policy bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans and Democrats will have to bridge a vast cultural divide over an issue that has nothing to do with bullets and bombs to complete work on a must-pass defense policy bill.

A key hurdle in the deliberations during the upcoming lame-duck session is a provision in the $602 billion legislation that Senate Democrats say would undercut protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation.

They’re calling the measure dangerous and are demanding it be removed.

But many House Republicans view the provision as a bulwark for religious liberty and want it retained. They say the measure merely builds on existing law.

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election has strengthened the GOP’s hand should the contentious debate spill into next year.

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