The letter, first reported by The Atlantic, was sent on Tuesday by 14 representatives, including the president of Gordon College, an Erie County, Pa., executive and the national faith vote director for Obama for America 2012, of the faith community.
"Without a robust religious exemption," they wrote, "this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom."
The leaders noted that the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act included a religious exemption:
Our concern about an executive order without a religious exemption is about more than the direct financial impact on religious organizations. While the nation has undergone incredible social and legal change over the last decade, we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality. We must find a way to respect diversity of opinion on this issue in a way that respects the dignity of all parties to the best of our ability. There is no perfect solution that will make all parties completely happy.
The White House announced in June that Obama would issue an executive order forbidding contractors that receive federal funding from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender equality after the House had stymied ENDA. The White House declined to comment to The Atlantic on the Tuesday letter and did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment.
The letter didn't mention the Hobby Lobby decision directly. But one of the signees, Michael Wear, the Obama 2012 veteran, told The Atlantic that the court decision meant the administration would need to address such concerns.
"The administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues," he said.