NRB Reiterates Objections to ENDA

CapitolNRB this week reiterated its long-standing religious freedom objections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was recently re-introduced in both the House and the Senate.

“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,” noted Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President & General Counsel.

Since 1994, ENDA has been introduced in one form or another in every Congress except one.  The legislation, if passed, would create new employment rights for individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

On multiple occasions, Parshall has testified in Congress to voice NRB’s objections to ENDA, including last year's hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. NRB's opposition to ENDA particularly focuses on the bill's failure to create a safe harbor for religious organizations and ministries.

ENDA would assault the constitutional rights of faith-based organizations and lead to a chilling effect in religious communities,” said Parshall. “If the supporters of ENDA truly want to respect people of faith, and their right to choose not to employ LGBT persons in their ministry organizations, they can do it with one clear, simple sentence. But they have not done that. 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.”

According to reports, ENDA is scheduled to receive a markup later this spring but might not get a vote until late summer or early fall. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and Senate HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Click here to read Craig Parshall’s written response to a question posed to him by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) following last year's hearing before the Senate HELP Committee.

Published: May 9, 2013