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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
ENDA controversy: Log Cabin Republicans like it just fine as it is
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ENDA controversy: Log Cabin Republicans like it just fine as it is

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Log Cabin Republicans say they like ENDA just fine as it is, religious exemption and all.

'Nothing has changed at Log Cabin Republicans regarding our calculus. We continue to support ENDA as it is now, as we always have,' the group's leader, Gregory T. Angelo told Metro Weekly July 14.

ENDA was intended to prohibit employers from discriminating against LGBT workers. Most national LGBT and human rights organizations have now dropped their support of ENDA because of the broad religious exemption included in the measure.

ACLU, GLAD, NGLTF, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, and the Transgender Law Center said on July 8 that in light of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, ENDA as written would allow employers to discriminate against LGBT employees under the cover of religion, and therefore should not be supported.

HRC said it hopes for an 'improved' ENDA with tighter exemptions, and a new, comprehensive LGBT rights bill.

Log Cabin is the oldest, and the only surviving LGBT Republican organization. Its principal competitor, GOProud, dissolved itself earlier this year. Log Cabin accused the other LGBT groups of 'moving the goal posts' after the U.S. Senate passed ENDA last year, on a bipartisan 64-32 vote.

'A lot of these organizations on the left withdrawing their support are ignorant of the political reality in Washington that led to bi-partisan support of ENDA in the Senate in the first place,' Angelo said.

'It's puzzling, really - it's like we scored the touchdown with the Senate passage of ENDA, and right as we're about to kick the field goal in the House the left decides to move the goal posts. Histrionics about the Hobby Lobby decision didn't help, and a misinformation campaign about the religious exemption in ENDA hasn't either. ENDA isn't perfect, but no one ever said it was the end-game, and in politics you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.'

According to an analysis by The Leadership Conference, a coalition of more than 200 human rights organizations, 'The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) includes a broad exemption for religious organizations... It also acknowledges that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees of religious organizations should be aware that they could lose their jobs, even jobs that do not serve a clearly religious function, because of sexual orientation or gender identity.'

The ENDA religious exemption includes:

o A complete exemption for houses of worship, parochial and similar religious schools, and missions;

o A codification of the so-called 'ministerial exemption' recognized by many federal courts, exempting positions at religious organizations that involve the teaching or spreading religion, religious governance, or the supervision of individuals engaged in these activities;

o A provision allowing religious organizations, for classes of jobs, to require employees and applicants to conform to a declared set of significant religious tenets, including ones which would bar LGBT people from holding the position.

'In the third section of the exemption, the declaration of an employer's significant tenets is not subject to judicial review and is only applicable in proceedings under ENDA,' The Leadership Conference notes.

Critics of ENDA as currently written say that the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision allows even for-profit corporations to opt out of federal laws based on religious beliefs, and therefore the same exemptions that ENDA envisions for religious employers could be extended to any employer, gutting protections for LGBT workers.

Ten Republican Senators joined with Democrats to pass ENDA in 2013, but Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the bill would never come to the floor in the House, even with the religious exemption.

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