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Not their END-A Game

By Tony Perkins

The end goal for supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has never been about respecting religious beliefs. It has been about stomping out religious employers’ ability to take into consideration actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity when making employment decisions consistent with their faith.

This week, 190 Democrats signed onto a discharge petition to force a House vote on a version of ENDA that removes any doubt that the proposed bill will afford any actual exemptions for religious organizations. The resolution to be discharged, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), strikes already inadequate exemption language. Instead, it states that religious schools, associations, and non-profits must also comply with ENDA, even though such compliance means they will no longer be able to ensure that employees share their faith commitments in full.

The Senate passed ENDA last November with a woefully narrow religious exemption and House Leadership has since refused to consider the bill. Discharge petitions require 218 signatures and rarely succeed, as they are often seen as an act of hostility towards leadership. Nevertheless, 190 members have gone on record not only in support of ENDA, but now in support of an unprecedented version of ENDA which contains no protections for religious communities.

This year, numerous activist groups pulled back on their support of the Senate-passed ENDA, opening a rift in strategy between those wanting to pass ENDA now and remove the religious exemption later and those impatient with the pretense. This week’s discharge petition reveals the true intentions of ENDA’s backers.

ENDA has never been about bipartisanship or fairness — it has been about using the levers of government and threat of lawsuits to strong-arm opponents of an agenda hostile to traditional Christian views of sexual morality. Future debates on ENDA will draw this further into focus.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)


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