The Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) has been losing major supporters who are concerned that the law contains an overly broad exemption for religious discrimination against the LGBT community. The ACLU, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, and other civil rights organizations have already withdrawn support for the current version of ENDA. The controversy over ENDA stems from an exemption for religious discrimination, something recently in the news due to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Hobby Lobby case.
Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, wrote in an Op-Ed for The Advocate that “[I]t is becoming harder and harder for me, for us, to tolerate our own moral and political inconsistencies by protesting the Hobby Lobby decision, then advocating for the current ENDA with its broad religious exemption.”
The ACLU has also released a statement saying it can not support for current version of ENDA, particularly in light of the Hobby Lobby decision.
The ACLU objects to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”
Advocates of equality also want any religious discrimination exceptions removed from President Obama’s executive order to protect LGBT federal workers.
The question then remains as to what the long term results of the Hobby Lobby decision will be. Will it be seen as a minor step backward that was quickly overcome, or has it drawn a firm battle line that will be fought over for years?
Photo by DangApricot under Creative Commons license.