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Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014

Gay Rights Employment Act Could End Religious Liberty in America

  • Nate Kellum is Chief Counsel for the Center for Religious Expression.
November 12, 2013|8:34 am

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 effectuate it.

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 identity."

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 percent 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.

Nate Kellum is chief counsel for the Center for Religious Expression a non-profit organization in Memphis, TN dedicated entirely to the protection of religious speech.
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-rights-employment-act-could-end-religious-liberty-in-america-108584/