Justin Snow over at MetroWeekly reports that Sen. Jeff Merkley has formally announced that he will introduce a comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill in the next Congress.
Merkley said that while the Senate’s passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November of last year by a 64-32 vote after the bill failed by one vote in 1996 was a “tremendous victory,” if discrimination is wrong in employment, it also must be wrong in areas such as housing, public accommodations and financial transactions.
“Such an act would be a major advance for opportunity and equality for the LGBT community and would be a major stride toward a more just society,” said Merkley, who has been the lead sponsor of ENDA in the Senate since assuming that role from Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2009.
Merkly who previously supported and introduced the last version of ENDA as written with the gaping religious exemption states that he will introduce an omnibus bill in the next Congress with comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination protections. Also that the religious exemption in the expected omnibus bill should track identically to federal nondiscrimination provisions in the 1964 Civil Rights Act addressing race. “Obviously there’s going to be an intense conversation between stakeholders and we hope to bring in a bipartisan coalition,” Merkley said. But narrowing the religious exemption could prove detrimental to Republican support.
NOTE: The “religious exemption” in Title VII of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act grants churches, synagogues, and mosques, as well as some religiously affiliated organizations an exemption from the law’s prohibition on religious hiring discrimination–meaning they can prefer members of their own faith in hiring. The purpose of this exemption is to permit a religious organization to require those who carry out its work to share its faith (and it has subsequently been interpreted to apply even when an employee’s work is not itself religious). But, it is not a blank check for these organizations to discriminate for any reason. It does not, for example, permit discrimination on the basis of race or sex. AND WE SHOULD SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS.
Meanwhile Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said securing comprehensive LGBT federal protections could take decades. Which is especially true now after the past 20 years of HRC’s total mishandeling of ENDA and the current GOP controlled House and Senate.
“I have great faith in those on Capitol Hill in the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, who have led on ENDA who will lead us on how we get there,” Griffin said. “This is going to take a long time and this is going to be perhaps the biggest battle we’ve ever had when it comes to federal legislation.”
It’s amazing what Democrats can do when they are not in power.
Well now the HRC has another “moneybeg” for the next two decades that they can constantly fuck-up to stay in business and try to justify their bloated salaries.