Last week the United States Senate passed
a bill with a nice – albeit vague – ring to it: Employment Non-Discrimination
Act of 2013 (ENDA). But as evidenced by the Affordable Care Act (otherwise
known as Obamacare), the titles of laws can be misleading. ENDA does not curb
unfair discrimination in the workplace; rather, the legislation would
Carving out special and unwarranted protections
for those that self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, the act would
prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from making employment or work
environment decisions dealing with actual or perceived “sexual orientation” or “gender
Like a rebel without a cause or a conscience, the far-reaching bill threatens
to trample the rights of religious citizens and compel them into compliance
despite very little proof of any, much less widespread, discrimination against
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. A recent report reflects that
the GLBT lobby has been highly effective in the private sector, with 88% of Fortune 500 companies voluntarily putting
policies like this into place.
The ENDA agenda is to force the
homosexual, bisexual and transgender way of life on the rest of us.
Unlike traits protected in Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act, like sex, race, and national origin, ENDA sets aside
preferential treatment for groups that are defined (loosely) by behavior and lifestyle. This makes ENDA remarkably different,
for it requires employers to accept and effectively promote conduct that could
be contrary to their own religious beliefs. Also, different from Title VII,
ENDA does not have a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) exemption,
that allows businesses to hire and let go employees consistent with job
qualifications – even if a protected category is taken into account – such as setting
age requirements for airline pilots.
ENDA contains a narrow exception for
religious organizations, like churches, but overlooks a vast number of
Christians and other concerned citizens who have personal convictions about
sexual matters. People of faith who only want to run their businesses according
to their religious values are obliged to do so at their own risk.
Like other proprietors, Christian
employers should have the right to establish work environs and retain employees
consistent with their missions. More fundamentally, business-owners should be
able to conduct business without violating their scruples.
ENDA would outlaw this sort of
common-sense liberty and force Christian entrepreneurs to adopt values
prescribed by the federal government instead of those they derive from God.
The owners of a family-friendly
restaurant might have salient reasons for not accommodating a cross-dressing male
who wants to be a hostess, perhaps, thinking the spectacle could distract from
their purpose of providing families with a comfortable and welcoming place to
bring their young children. But if ENDA becomes the law of the land, those
owners would have to weigh the prospect of criminal sanction before telling the
employee to take off the high heels. The proprietor who
seeks to protect his female employees from sharing a bathroom with a male
employee is also likely to find himself subject to a discrimination lawsuit.
No one, particularly, no politician, wants
to be labeled (even if unfairly) as a supporter of “discrimination.” Dan Coates
from Indiana was the lone senator willing to speak out against ENDA on the
floor (though 1/3 of the Senate voted against it). But it would behoove members
of the House of Representatives to fully consider the ramifications of this
bill prior to making it law.
ENDA would mark the end of religious
liberty, as we know it.