A group of leading LGBT rights organizations has backed off the long-standing call for a federal non-discrimination bill in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby religious exemption case, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reported.
In a joint statement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Transgender Law Center, Lambda Legal, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) said they would stop urging President Barack Obama to sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as it is currently written, arguing that the bill’s built-in exemption for religious groups opened the door for them to use it as a way to work around other discrmination laws. Instead, they said, they want the exemption removed.
“If ENDA were to pass and be signed into law with this provision, the most important federal law for the LGBT community in American history would leave too many jobs, and too many LGBT workers, without protection,” the statute read. “Moreover, it actually might lessen non-discrimination protections now provided for LGBT people by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and very likely would generate confusion rather than clarity in federal law.”
The coalition specifically cited the Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling extending the Affordable Care Act’s religious exemption to cover for-profit businesses owned by people with “deeply held” spiritual beliefs. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned that the decision would open up a “minefield”
“Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination,” the joint statement read.
Vox reported that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund issued a separate statement saying it would also stop pushing the Obama administration to sign ENDA into effect.
“The campaign to create broad religious exemptions for employment protections repeats a pattern we’ve seen before in methodically undermining voting rights, women’s access to reproductive health, and affirmative action,” executive director Rea Carey said in her group’s statement. “It is time for fair-minded people to block this momentum, rather than help speed it into law.”
Previously, many LGBT groups had argued that signing ENDA into law via an executive action would allow Obama to extend workplace protections to an additional 22 percent of the U.S. workforce. Another organization, GetEQUAL, went so far last year as to pay someone to interrupt a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama to criticize her husband for not doing so.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]