It may have taken 30+ years and the stripping away of its most basic meaning, but ENDA , the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has finally passed its final vote in the full Senate 64-32 amidst much hype and political theater.
Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting “yes,” on the bill
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey attempted to add an additional amendment that would have expended the bill’s already far too broad religious exemptions to include any businesses or persons who had any dealing of any kind with a religious institution. Democratic Sen. Harkin criticized the Toomey amendment ahead of the vote, saying it threatened “to gut the fundamental principle of ENDA.” (Even though that had happened already at the hands of Tico Almeida of Freedom to Work who helped write the bill’s current religious exemption that will allow religious institutions, schools, hospitals, and businesses to continue to discriminate against the LGBT community openly hiding under the banner of “freedom of religion” and will write LGBT discrimination into law.)
It’s the first time in history that the Senate has passed ENDA. The House passed a version of ENDA in 2007, but it did not include protections for transgender individuals. And this religiously exempt flawed version (luckily?) has very little chance of passing or even being brought to the floor of the House of Representatives as John Boehner and his core group oppose the measure, and senior aides say it’s unlikely to even come up for a vote in the House.
Meanwhile while the Human Rights Campaign, other LGBT organizations and even the ACLU are embracing the hyperbole (and money donations) of ENDA’s Senate passage. But the fact still remains that the religious exemptions are so dangerous that it would actually write LGBT discrimination into law and set the community up as “second class citizens” and “Gay Inc” is ignoring that fact because they don’t want to bother or get into a fight because they believing that ENDA will never pass the House anyway.
But fortunately the atheist group Secular Coalition For America has vowed to fight the religious exemptions think its not worth while.
Via the SCA press release:
The Secular Coalition for America today applauded the passing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate, but expressed disappointment that discrimination by religious organizations will continue to be permitted, leaving millions of Americans unprotected. “This is a step in the right direction, but it certainly doesn’t go far enough,” said Edwina Rogers, executive director for the Secular Coalition for America. “Many of the organizations exempted from the law receive public funding, which means they are permitted to discriminate against taxpayers with taxpayer dollars. That’s completely unacceptable.” The First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause has never stood for the principal that religious belief trumps all other laws. As Justice Scalia once wrote “to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” As the bill moves to the U.S.House, where Speaker John Boehner has indicated he will not bring the bill up. The Secular Coalition will continue to work for passage of ENDA, and to ensure Section 6 is removed or narrowed and that no exceptions are made for religiously-motivated discrimination.
Thank you SCA for speaking up while our own organizations stay silent and refuse to do nothing.
The religious exemptions are a disgrace and a clear decision by pandering Democrats and our LGBT organizations to get something passed, anything passed for their own publicity and glory.
The current version of ENDA is virtually worthless and an affront to every LGBT activist who has ever fought for full equality in the history of our movement. Discrimination has no place in our laws. It defeats the very protections we are fighting for and the true meaning of ENDA.