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LGBT Activists Push Back Against Broad “Religious” Exemptions In ENDA

ENDAA strong movement is emerging by grassroots activists to narrow the current sweeping, unprecedented religious exemption in the recently introduced ENDA ( The Employment Non-Discrimination Act) legislation in both the House and the Senate.

As it stands ENDA’s religious exemptions extend far beyond churches, synagogues, and mosques and could provide a blank check to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people. It also effectively gives a stamp of legitimacy to LGBT discrimination that our civil rights laws have never given any protections based on an individual’s race, sex, national origin, age, or disability. The religious exemptions included in the current version of ENDA would almost render the legislation useless.

Last Saturday The New York Times Editorial Board took both President Obama and Congress to task over ENDA not only urging Congress to pass the ENDA but also insisting that President Obama sign an executive order barring companies that contract with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Amazingly President Obama has been reluctant to do so despite the fact that there is presidential precedent set by not one but two former Presidents.

President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in 1942 which required any part of the federal government involved in defense contracts to ensure that vocational and training programs were administered without discrimination as to “race, creed, color or national origin.”   President Lyndon Johnson also singed Executive Order 11246  on September 24, 1965, which “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 

But still President Obama refuses to sign an Executive Order to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by federal contractors.

The Tines editorial also touched on ENDA’s current religious exemptions:

…the exemption – extending well beyond just houses of worship to hospitals and universities, for example, and encompassing medical personnel, billing clerks and others in jobs that are not directly involved in any religious function – amounts to a license to engage in the discrimination that ENDA is meant to remedy

Exactly what good is an anti-discrimination bill that will allow those who discrimination the most to continue doing so without suffering ramifications?

This is not about religion and should never have been.  Discrimination against others is NOT acceptable in the Bible.  Quite the contrary,  and the fact that we allow the perverse twisting of scriptures by anti-gay extremist religious groups to use as protection is not only shameful to the United States but also shows our leaders as cowards who fear upsetting them.

Religious Freedom does not and will never include hate.

It’s time that the excuse for using faux “religion beliefs” as a reason to discriminate and hate is exposed and denied once and for all.

And its well past time for our so-called “fierce advocate’ and other elected leaders to step up prove that.

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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