What is the point of ENDA now?
By Cathy Kristofferson, November 5, 2013
Republicans have introduced two amendments to the already highly contentious religious exemption of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA), further watering down the bill’s protections.
With all Democrats already committed to vote Yes and only 59 votes secured, supporting Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were suddenly and unexpectedly unavailable. This meant additional Republican supporters were hurriedly secured. It seems they came at a high price.
The price for Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) was an amendment to ensure that discriminating religious entities which exercise the exemption would not be unduly burdened or penalized by Federal, State or local governments:
“A religious employer’s exemption under this Act shall not result in any action by a Federal government agency, or any state or local government agency that receives Federal funding or financial assistance, to penalize or withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation, contracts, grants, guarantees, tax-exempt status, or any benefits or exemptions from that employer, or to prohibit the employer’s participation in programs or activities sponsored by that Federal, state, or local government agency. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to invalidate any other federal, state, or local law or regulation that otherwise applies to an employer exempt under this section.”
Apparently, ENDA’s sponsor Senator Merkely (D-OR), along with LGBT advocates HRC, ACLU and Freedom to Work are willing to go along with this. It seems to be just too much of a compromise.
Also, Ayotte and Portman are demanding the following be added to the Purposes section of ENDA for clarification:
“to reinforce the nation’s commitment to fairness and equal opportunity in the workplace consistent with the fundamental right of religious freedom.”
They want to clarify that the non-discrimination bill, which is clearly serving to actually legalize discrimination, is reinforcing “the nation’s commitment to fairness and equal opportunity.” The self appointed gang in charge of representing our rights are also willing to go along with this. This is an outrage, its ridiculous and it is an irresponsible representation for our community.
Honestly, how watered down does it have to get? This bill will already make sexual orientation/gender identity the ONLY protected class that can be legally discriminated against by the bill that is supposed to protect us.
The second, and more costly, amendment was introduced by Senator Toomey (R-PA) and it actually broadens the religious exemption to allow even more employers, including secular, to legally discriminate.
“In addition, (i) an employer shall qualify for this exemption if it is (in whole or in part) managed by a particular religious corporation, association, or society; if it is officially affiliated with a particular religion or religious corporation, association, or society; or if the institution’s curriculum is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion; and (ii) This exemption shall apply regardless of whether the employer, or the employment position at issue, engages in secular activities as well as religious activities.”
Luckily this particular amendment does not appear to have the votes to move forward.
Additional lunacy today included the Kentucky Republican pair of Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell who are attaching an amendment to create a national Right-To-Work Law. Right to Work laws guarantee employees cannot be required to join or pay dues to a labor union effectively allowing those employees free collective bargaining! Hopefully the union busting amendment will also be opposed by the ENDA sponsors.
Too bad the amendments required to secure the necessary filibuster-proof 60 votes couldn’t go away with the return of McCaskill and Murkowski. Luckily the Toomey broadening amendment seems doomed but the other is scary. It was already disgusting to have that gaping hole of religious bigotry in ENDA, but now to have it justified in the Purposes section is beyond the pale.
Where are the amendments to remove or at least narrow the religious exemption?
“Religious liberty, contrary to what opponents of racial equality argued then and LGBT equality argue now, is not a license to use religion to discriminate.” By Cathy Kristofferson, June 14, 2013 Back in April when the 2013 version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced into Congress we posted here and here on OBLOGDEE […]
by Cathy Kristofferson on May 2, 2013 Seems to be exactly where the Religious Right is digging in these days. By Cathy Kristofferson, May 02, 2013. Two legislative initiatives now underway on Capital Hill greatly underscore the fact that it is the Religious Right who is seeking ‘special rights’ not the LGBT community, as we are so often accused. The Comprehensive Immigration […]
By Cathy Kristofferson, April 29, 2013 Here on this BLOG Thursday, we reported that directly preceding the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2013, a press release came out expressing “very grave concerns” about the religious exemption clause contained in the Bill. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, the National Center for […]