Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) received pressure this week from some media outlets after he expressed religious liberty reservations with the recently re-introduced Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.1755/S.815), commonly referred to as ENDA. Liberal critics assert there is a religious exemption in ENDA, but NRB stepped in to re-affirm ENDA’s religious freedom affront.
“The current version of ENDA contains the same convoluted, so-called religious exemption language, as in prior years,” stated Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President & General Counsel, “and that language is an open invitation for endless litigation and paltry protection for religious employers.”
ENDA would create new employment rights for individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Last year, Mr. Parshall was asked to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on NRB’s religious freedom concerns in the bill. While Senate Democrats alluded to the religious liberty concern as a “technical” issue, NRB insisted that ENDA would harm the constitutional rights of faith-based organizations and lead to a “chilling effect” in religious communities.
Mr. Parshall declared this week, “The repeated failure to cure this statutory language problem suggests a less-than-good faith effort on the part of the proponents of ENDA to protect fundamental religious liberties.”
This perennial bill has been a priority for the LGBT lobby for almost two decades. ENDA, sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is unlikely to be voted on in the House of Representatives during this session of Congress, but Senate action is possible.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 10, 2013