WASHINGTON – The U.S House of Representatives again postponed a vote on H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to next week.
A vote on the federal gay rights bill has been delayed for more than a month as legislators negotiate the language and delay the contentious legislation to attend to more pressing matters.
Opponents of the bill argue that it would force even Christian organizations and pro-family groups who teach about the sin of homosexuality to hire gays since it would make it illegal for employers to make decisions on hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee based on sexual orientation.
ENDA seeks to add sexual orientation to the list of federally protected classes – which include race, color, religion, sex and national origin – to prohibit job discrimination.
"That is about as upside-down and about as perverted a reading as what the first amendment is about as I can imagine," said Colin A. Hanna, founder and president of the conservative group Let Freedom Ring, at an ENDA press conference last month.
Among the most divisive language in H.R. 3685 are the words "actual or perceived" sexual orientations. Opponents of the bill have heatedly argued that the word "perceived" is purposely vague so that cross-dressers, she-males and others can claim their employer "perceived" them to be a transgender person and discriminated against them as a result.
"Judges and lawyers will have to get inside the employer's mind to determine if he had negative thoughts about a potential cross-dressing employee," pointed out the pro-family group Traditional Values in an email alert. "This will end up being a legal nightmare for business owners. Their thoughts will be on trial."
The White House indicated in October that President George W. Bush would veto ENDA if it makes it to his desk. The administration calls the bill "inconsistent" with the right to free exercise of religion and highlighted that the bill's wording is "imprecise" making it "extremely difficult" to enforce objectively.
"If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach," the White House warned.
Concerned citizens are urged to contact their U.S. representatives immediately and urge them to vote 'No' on ENDA.
On the Web: Petition against Hate Crimes and ENDA Bills at focuspetitions.org