Is religion a lifestyle preference?

I was chatting to a person the other week, about sexual orientation and the issue currently being reviewed (ignored?) by the CCCCD Board of Trustees.  Anyway, she made an interesting comment as we were talking about the existing 'protected' classes that most discrimination policies have including religion.  Her comment was religion, itself, could be seen to be a lifestyle choice or preference, as there was no proof that you were born into a religion (though that may be debatable given some of the people who live around here).  I'm actually thinking that there may be a great deal of truth about this observation.  Which brings me to the news.

According to the Washington Blade, a bill (the Workforce Investment Act, H.R. 27) passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month (on a 224/200 vote) that would “allow religious organizations receiving federal funds to maintain anti-gay hiring policies” passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, from the Americans United for Separation of Church & State, is quoted as saying, “They want ‘special rights,’ asking the government for money while requesting that they can still discriminate in hiring.” Hmmm… special rights.  Where have I heard that before, and why is it okay for this particular lifestyle preference to receive “special rights,” but not others.  Oh wait, maybe that is because the rights that some are seeking are not “special” just “equal.”