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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
ENDA's exemption
Section One
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ENDA's exemption

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

Luckily for me, I get to write about a fun person in this column: my friend Matt Foreman, the former executive director of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF), who has been lighting up social media lately.

It all has to do with ENDA, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which has languished in Congress since first introduced in May 1974 by Congress-members Bella Abzug and Ed Koch. I was even enlisted by Koch and Abzug in the fall of that same year (reasons will be in my memoirs) to assist. But the legislation has failed to advance over the decades, and changed forms.

Now, Foreman is calling for the community to 'pull the plug on ENDA.' He - and others who were there at the time can agree - says that the current incarnation is a slim version of the original, and worse yet, it would still allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBT people in services and adoptions. Many organizations are getting on board with Foreman and he has set up a hashtag - #ENDAisNOTEqual - which, according to blog Joe. My. God., is being used by organizations like Queer Nation.

The story here, that no one in LGBT media wants to tackle, is about what is called a 'religious exemption,' which really isn't. What that term is used for is to allow religious institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) to use public taxpayer funds for all programs connected to their churches. Example: A church can't afford to stay open due to low attendance. Answer? Open a youth program, adoption center, senior programs, basketball court, ball field, etc., and connect them to the church. All are getting funding, and some of those funds go to people who staff the church, work at the church and, of course, to the upkeep and part of the utilities of the church.

The exemption is all about money and religion. Religion is already a protected class. Want proof? Try requesting an Orthodox Jewish temple to marry a Catholic woman to a Jewish male. Or do the same in a Catholic Church. It won't happen and it is legal since religion is a protected class.

Adding that provision is just a way to make you, the taxpayer, pay the cost of religious institutions.

Courtesy of Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News.

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