The United States Senate has approved legislation granting special rights to homosexuals and "transgender" individuals under federal employment
law. The bill, known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), poses a serious threat to the religious freedom and spiritual integrity of many Christian ministries, institutions, and employers.
The Senate approved ENDA by a vote of 64-32. The bill would add so-called "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes under federal workplace discrimination statutes.Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill
voted for the measure. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt voted against the proposal. The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, where its future is uncertain.
Under the legislation, it would be a federal offense "to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any
individual...because of such individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity." The bill would also make it an unlawful employment practice to discriminate in the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of "sexual orientation" or "gender identity."
Under current federal law, found primarily in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, individuals are protected from employment discrimination based on immutable characteristics they may possess, such as race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. Employers may also not discriminate against an individual based on their fundamental right of religious freedom.
Under ENDA, for the first time, individuals would be protected from bias in employment practices because of their personal conduct and behavior, in this case the practice of sexual perversion. Homosexuals and individuals who claims to be "transgendered" would be able to file complaints against employers with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and file lawsuits in federal court. The U.S. Attorney General would have the authority to prosecute cases of alleged "sexual orientation" discrimination.
Proponents of ENDA claim that religious freedom is preserved because of an exemption included in the bill
for religious employers. The exemption provision refers to existing language in the Civil Rights Act regarding religious entities.
That language establishes an exemption from anti-discrimination law for "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion." The scope of the exemption is essentially limited to organized church denominations and their legal affiliates.
Federal courts have interpreted the Title VII exemption to apply to "churches, synagogues, and the like, and organizations closely affiliated with those entities." The
exemption has never been found applicable to an institution "not wholly or partially owned by a church." A Congressional Research Service analysis correctly states that "independent Christian and other religious schools not owned, financed, or controlled by church bodies may find it difficult to quality for the exemption in ENDA."
In fact, the Senate expressly rejected an amendment that would have made it clear that the exemption applied to businesses owned, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or religious corporation "in whole or in substantial part."
Thus, the exemption not only does not encompass private Christian schools, but also independent Christian ministries and parachurch organizations, or
private businesses with a Christian emphasis such as a Christian radio station, Christian bookstore, or Christian publishing house. Private corporations whose owners have established their businesses with a distinct Christian or Catholic mission would also fall outside the exemption.
As a result, a teacher in a private Christian high school could choose to "marry" a same-sex person in contradiction to Biblical principles, and the school would be unable to release him from employment for his defiance of church teaching. An elementary school teacher in a Christian school (or a public school for that matter) could choose to dress as a transvestite, or even
undergo a sex change operation, and the school would be unable to dismiss the teacher for such actions.
The issue of religious freedom was the basis for Senator Blunt
's vote against ENDA. "I have a long history of supporting measures that protect religious liberty, specifically religious hiring rights. The religious exemption in the bill is not broad enough to protect individuals and small businesses who wish to operate according to their religious convictions."
Aside from the dangerous provisions of the bill, the measure would legitimize in federal law the propagandistic terms of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." The term "sexual orientation" has been pushed by the "gay rights" community to foster the
false theory that homosexuality is an inbred characteristic predetermined at birth. The term "gender identity" has been propounded to ensconce the notion that gender is a mental construct freely chosen by the individual rather than an anatomical fact.
Defenders of the bill point to a section of ENDA that allows employers to enforce "reasonable dress or grooming standards." Yet this section is meaningless. It further stipulates that an employer must allow an employee who has undergone or is undergoing "gender transition" to dress as the opposite sex. "Gender transition" is not defined in the bill.Russell Moore
, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, says that ENDA will have a chilling effect on the ability
of religious employers to conduct their personal lives and their businesses in accordance with their faith. "All employees are entitled to dignity and respect, but ENDA provides special protections for particular behaviors that Scripture and Christian tradition consider sinful. "
Dr. Keith Weibe, President of the American Association of Christian Schools, says that Congress should not elevate individual's sexual preferences above constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. "We are deeply concerned about the devastating effect this legislation
would have on the ability of Americans to follow the dictates of their respective faiths. Schools in our association not directly operated by a church are at risk."
"This bill does not shield religious institutions from punitive measures by federal or state agencies," Wiebe adds. "In light of recent actions by the Internal Revenue Service, ENDA's arbitrary language exposes Christian employers to a potential onslaught of litigation."
It is discouraging to note that only one Senator (Dan Coats
of Indiana) had the wisdom and the courage to
stand up on the Senate floor and speak in opposition to this pernicious and depraved legislation.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has indicated he is unreceptive to taking up the ENDA bill on the House floor. Yet he will face unrelenting pressure to do so. A combination of Democrats and moderate Republicans could provide the votes to pass the bill and send the measure to President Obama, who has crusaded for its passage. Considering Congressman Boehner's history of caving on critical issues, his pledge to block the bill is anything but assured.
We strongly implore you to contact your elected Representative in Congress to urge their opposition to S.815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
. You can do so by using this link:Your Congressman
You can also contact Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt to let them know how you feel about their votes on ENDA.
You can contact Senator McCaskill through this link:Senator McCaskill
You can contact Senator Blunt at this link:Senator Blunt