The United States Senate this week approved a top legislative priority of the LGBT lobby - The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). NRB expressed dismay with the Senate’s 64-32 vote to pass ENDA without resolving its First Amendment problems and urged Members of the House of Representatives to stand firm against it.
“The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees fundamental rights for the citizens of our Republic. It is not a mere technicality or obstruction for powerful lobbies to break through,” stated NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson. “ENDA, even as amended by some well-meaning Senators, remains narrow, convoluted, and promises a legal burden and chill on employers committed to honoring the tenets of their faith in the workplace.”
ENDA (S.815/H.R.1755) would create new employment rights for individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Notably, during debate on the bill, Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) emphasized his opposition to the bill based on religious freedom concerns. “We can't pick and choose when to adhere to the Constitution and when to cast it aside for cheap political prerogatives,” he said and added:
I oppose discrimination of any kind, and that includes discrimination of individuals or institutions for their faith and values, which often gets lost and has been lost in this discussion. So there's two types of discrimination here we're dealing with and one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every American through our Constitution, a cherished value of freedom of expression and religion. And I believe this bill diminishes that freedom.
LGBT lobbying efforts will now undoubtedly put significant pressure on the House of Representatives to take up this bill, which currently has 193 House supporters. As attention turns to the House, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson stated, “I thank House Speaker John Boehner for his public stance against ENDA. I urge his House colleagues to follow his lead against advancing this perilously flawed legislation.” NRB continues its outreach to Capitol Hill offices regarding the religious freedom problems with ENDA.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: November 8, 2013