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Religious Tolerance logo

Employment discrimination

Support for ENDA (2007): The Federal
Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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Basic information about ENDA (2007):

The latest version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced as H.R. 2015 into the House on 2007-APR-24. It would have protected against workplace discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. The bill would make it illegal to refuse to hire, to fire, or to refuse to promote an employee solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill would not apply to the military, to religious organizations, or to employers of fewer than 15 employees. It does not require employers to provide domestic partner benefits. 1 More details, including definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

During 2007-OCT, the protection for employees based on gender identity was removed from the bill.

Support for ENDA among the public:

bullet2001-JUN: Gallup Organization: They asked American adults "In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of opportunities?" This is a particularly useful poll because Gallup has repeated the same poll eight times between 1977 and 2001. The 2001 poll showed that 85% favored equal opportunities; 11% felt that employers should be free to discriminate against gays and lesbians; 4% were undecided or didn't answer. 2

Year % preferring
equal treatment
% favoring
No answer/
Don't know
1977 56% 33% 11%
1982 59% 28% 13%
1989 71% 18% 11%
1992 74% 18% 8%
1993 80% 14% 6%
1996 84% 12% 4%
1999 83% 13% 4%
2001 85% 11% 4%

This chart gives an excellent insight into the gradually increasing acceptance of equal rights for homosexuals within the American culture.

bullet2001-JUN: Harris poll: This poll asked American adults whether they favored a federal law that actively prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is a double-barreled question because the only persons supporting such a law would be those who favored equality for persons of all sexual orientations, and who also favored federal involvement in the form of a law. Results were that 61% of Americans favored an ENDA law. In addition, 42% of the adults surveyed believed that this law already existed. 3

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Support for ENDA by religious and human rights leaders:

On 2007-APR-17, over 200 clergypersons from diverse religious faith groups held an inter-faith worship service, held a press conference, and lobbied their federal representatives and senators to support ENDA and a bill covering hate crimes based on sex, gender identity, disability and sexual orientation.

Some comments by participants:

bulletJoe Solmonese, is president of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for the GLBT communities (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual). He said:

"For too long, there has been a false perception in American politics that faith and religion stand diametrically opposed to equality for GLBT Americans. The hundreds of clergy joining us are here because they understand that we are all God's children, and our differing sexual orientations and our differing gender identities are not shameful sins, but rather amazing gifts from God."

bulletBishop Carlton Pearson, founder and senior pastor of the New Dimensions Worship Center in Tulsa, OK said:

"Congress once again has the opportunity, indeed the imperative, to add women; people with disabilities; and members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to the existing federal hate crimes law by passing the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is morally wrong to deprive anyone of the means to feed themselves and care for their families. Passage of this bill will help gay, lesbian and transgender people in 33 states where you can be fired for simply being gay."

bulletPeggy Campolo, Evangelical Christian leader from Wayne, PA said:

"For more than 20 years, I have been an advocate for my gay brothers and lesbian sisters, not in spite of my desire to follow Jesus Christ, but because of it, not in spite of what I read in the Bible, but because of it! Friends, there is no justice when men and women pay taxes, but are denied equal justice in the workplace, and equal protection under the law. I stand for justice today, in Jesus? name, beside my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters."

bulletRabbi Denise Eger, Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA said:

"Jewish tradition teaches that we have an obligation to protect the rights of workers. There are many laws in our Torah that teach us of our obligations to be fair to workers. This [ENDA] legislation is about fairness and justice."

bulletRev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre, Southern Baptist minister and professor of ethics and religion at Iliff School of Theology in Pueblo, CO said:

"My Lord and Savior, through words and deeds, has taught me to stand with those who are oppressed. Because all are created in the image of God, the imago Dei, violence committed against any one person is violence committed against the very image of God. As a Latino, I know all too well the stings of discrimination in the workplace and for that reason I have no choice but to be here today advocating passage of the hate crimes bill and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act."

bulletRev. William Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, MA, was accompanied by 17 Unitarian Universalist ministers  said:

"We are people of faith, and we also have a commitment to truth. Much of the rhetoric in opposition to these bills is blatantly and inexcusably false. So let me be clear: These laws would not create quotas or force churches to hire people who do not share their religious values. These laws will not criminalize free speech or impede religious expression in any way. These laws do not undermine a single constitutional right. In fact, the contrary is true. If passed, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would strengthen our nation's commitment to freedom and justice for all of 'we the people.'"

bulletRev. Dr. Erin Swenson, a minister of the Presbyterian Church, USA from Atlanta, GA said:

"My faith tradition teaches that every single person is made in God's image and is worthy of dignity and respect. My denomination ... supports the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act as one way our community can ensure this dignity and respect for everyone. The sacred texts of my faith tradition teach clearly that God upholds the most vulnerable among us, and there are few more vulnerable than those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."

bulletThe Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator for the Metropolitan Community Church of Lakewood Ranch, FL said:

"We see in our religious roots and teachings a call to justice, mercy and kindness, a call to a civil society of mutual respect, justice and dignity for all. We also come today to say that hate crimes legislation is not about limiting free speech, or about theoretical crimes; but it is about real acts that terrorize, maim and kill real people in our communities."

bulletThe Rev. Susan Russell, senior associate for parish life at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA said:

"My son Jaime is currently serving on active duty in Iraq. One of the core American values he was raised to embrace -- and he understands himself to be defending -- is our pledge to be a nation of 'liberty and justice for all.' I believe these important pieces of legislation will help move us as a nation toward that long-dreamed-of goal -- that dream of liberty and justice my son and so many other brave Americans in harm's way have sworn to preserve and protect."

bulletThe Rev. Charles Bouchard, president of Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO said:

"These two pieces of legislation do not create special rights. They do not endorse any lifestyle and they do not interfere with legitimate religious beliefs about moral behavior. They simply offer appropriate legal protection for persons who are victims of violence because of who they are and ensure that workers are judged on the basis of their job performance and not the basis of prejudice." 4

References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "H.R. 2015," text as submitted on 2007-APR-24, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/ Search for employment non-discrimination act or H.R. 2015.
  2. "Employment Non-Discrimination Act Quick Facts," Human Rights Campaign, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  3. Rev. Lou Sheldon & Andrea Lafferty "Dear Friend of TVC," Traditional Values Coalition, 2007-SEP-05, at: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/
  4. "Clergy from all 50 states urge Congress to pass hate crimes legislation, end workplace discrimination," Human Rights Campaign, 2007-APR-17, at: http://www.hrc.org/

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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