I've been assigned to run interviews for a position. The position has specific requirements and some preferentially desired candidate traits. I am supposed to evaluate candidates (often with some other members of the group sitting in, but I am primarily responsible for this part of the process) and send notes to everyone else so that we can come to a consensus.
The groups desired traits are illegal. Specifically, we have a qualified candidate about whom several other members have said things like "He seems nice, but it's hard to relate to people that are so much older than us. We should at least try to get someone closer to our age first" and "No one wants to have to work with someone old enough to be their parents".
We also have a less-qualified but not unqualified applicant that the other members of the group want to discriminate against because of their marital status/gender "She'll have to take too much time off to take care of her kid"-type stuff.
I strongly disapprove of these sorts of discrimination (and also they are illegal in my place of residence) but I am not sure what to do about it. The people involved in the group are young, politically active, anti-discrimination liberal folk who have thus far handwaved off my objections because 'this is different' (i.e. it affects them and regards prejudices they actually hold so it's inconvenient to deconstruct social oppression for them in this case (possibly this is a bit harsh) ).
I have the power to just pick a candidate over their objections or pretend we tried and couldn't get anyone else or whatever, but forcing a candidate down their throats and by extension the throat of the larger situation seems like a nuclear option that also doesn't resolve the underlying illegal decision-making process.
How should I handle this? The organization has no HR department and only a few employees so that the ban against discriminatory practice is industry-specific and local rather than the general prohibition the federal government instates via title VII. The CEO is out-of town for several weeks and isn't included in the group.