This week the President made good on his promise to LGBT activists to issue an ENDA-like Executive Order applying to federal contractors. Unfortunately, despite widespread concern and pleas even from those who were core faith outreach leaders in his own presidential campaigns, President Obama declined to offer any specific religious liberty protection in his order.
With this dismissal of religious liberty so soon on the heels of last week’s Senate Democrat attack on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) on behalf of Planned Parenthood, and another vote coming in the weeks ahead on a constitutional amendment to limit the First Amendment, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, was swift to respond: “Again this Administration has shown intolerance for constitutional religious liberty rights when they may not perfectly sync with the wish lists of LGBT, abortion, and other powerful liberal lobbies.”
Last month, Dr. Johnson sent a letter to the President urging him to reconsider this course and laying out NRB’s longstanding concern with ENDA, specifically its faulty religious protection clause. Citing the Congressional testimony of Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President and General Counsel, on ENDA’s problems, he declared, “ENDA remains convoluted for employers committed to honoring the tenets of their faith in the workplace. Indeed, I am concerned that ambiguity regarding the rights of religious organizations is likely to stir litigation and to compromise one of our nation’s First Amendment liberties.”
Following this week’s move by the White House, Dr. Johnson stated, “While the provisions of the Senate-passed ENDA were dangerously unsatisfactory, the White House’s unilateral decision to jettison any such religious freedom language is incredible and unacceptable.”
ENDA (S.815/H.R.1755) would create new employment rights for individuals based on their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: July 25, 2014