HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > NRB Cautions as ENDA Advances

NRB Cautions as ENDA Advances

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S.815), commonly known as ENDA, advanced out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee after a 15-7 vote this week. However, NRB quickly cautioned Senators that the Committee neglected to address a significant constitutional problem with the bill. Specifically, NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright highlighted that ENDA does not uphold the First Amendment freedoms of religious organizations.

“A right engraved in the Constitution, in the very First Amendment, must not be treated lightly,” stated Dr. Wright in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “Ambiguity regarding the rights of religious organizations is likely to stir litigation and to put a chill on one of our nation’s keystone liberties. I urge you not to advance ENDA given this concern.”

Last year, NRB Senior Vice President & General Counsel Craig Parshall outlined NRB’s religious freedom concerns with ENDA in formal testimony before the Senate HELP Committee:

We oppose [ENDA] because… (1) it generally illustrates the kind of unaccommodating approach to religious organizations that was recently rejected by a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court; (2) the insufficient “religious exemption” provisions of this bill would permit a substantial and unconstitutional burden to be placed on religious organizations; and (3) court decisions dealing with “gender identity” type employment discrimination claims indicate that a legal remedy is already available for such claims under existing Title VII law, also subsuming within them numerous “sexual orientation” claims as well.

When ENDA was re-introduced in May, Mr. Parshall asserted, “The current version of ENDA contains the same convoluted, so-called religious exemption language, as in prior years, and that language is an open invitation for endless litigation and paltry protection for religious employers.”

All 12 Democrats on the Senate HELP Committee voted for ENDA, as did Republican Senators Mark Kirk (IL), Orrin Hatch (UT), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). The addition of Senators Hatch and Murkowski as supporters of the bill brings the total to 56 Senators publicly in favor of it. Only three Democrat Senators have not yet cosponsored the bill: Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Mark Pryor (D-AR). Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) indicated his hope that ENDA will be brought to the Senate Floor for a vote this coming autumn. 

  • Find NRB’s press release and letter to Senate Leaders regarding the advancement of ENDA.
  • Learn more details about NRB’s religious freedom concerns with ENDA.
  • Watch the Committee vote on ENDA

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: July 12, 2013

Latest News

Legislators Lining Up Against Performance Tax, More Needed

Members of Congress continue to line up against any move toward a performance tax by signing their names to the Local Radio Freedom Act (H.Con.Res.17/S.Con.Res.4).

Supreme Court Sets Date for Marriage Cases

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that on April 28 it will listen to oral arguments in four consolidated cases pivotal for the future of marriage in the United States.

FCC to Levy $325K Indecency Fine on Broadcaster

The FCC this week announced it will slap a Virginia television broadcaster with its maximum indecency penalty of $325,000 following that station’s airing of obscene material during an evening newscast.

Concern with Internet Order’s Message to World

In its unanimous Resolution last month against the FCC net neutrality order, the National Religious Broadcasters Board of Directors, a body of approximately a hundred key leaders among Christian communicators, similarly highlighted...

Senator Harry Reid to Retire in 2016

The top Democrat in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid, announced Friday morning that he will retire at the end of this session of Congress.

Saddleback Church Commemorates 35 Years of Ministry

Saddleback Church, founded by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, celebrated 35 years of ministry influence and impact during a special community-wide service on Saturday, March 21, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.

In Memoriam: Dr. Arthur D. Stamler

Dr. Arthur (Art) Donald Stamler, a pioneer in broadcasting, went home to be with Jesus on Saturday, January 31, following a brief illness. He was 81.

TCKF Launches Radio Show in the Austin, San Antonio Markets

The Coming King Foundation (TCKF), led by artist Max Greiner, Jr., recently launched The Cross at Kerrville, a new radio program on KTXW 1120 in Austin, TX, and KSLR 630 in San Antonio, TX.

Video Recordings from NRB15 Convention Now Viewable on YouTube

Did you miss a session at the NRB15 International Christian Media Convention held last month in Nashville, TN?

Facebook's Troubling Hate Speech Standards

This week Facebook unveiled updated “Community Standards” intended to clarify its reasoning for what content it blocks or removes from its platform.

More News