Is this where it all ENDAs?

I’ve suspected for some time that there is something radically out of kilter with the gay rights movement in America. Now, I’m sure of it.

The Washington Post reports:

Several major gay rights groups withdrew support Tuesday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace, saying they fear that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill might compel private companies to begin citing objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case last week. . . .

[T]he groups said they can no longer back ENDA as currently written in light of the Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down a key part of President Obama’s health-care law. The court ruled that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs. . . .

Signs of crumbling support for ENDA came first Tuesday from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, one of several gay rights group that has aggressively pushed Obama to expand gay rights through executive action since the start of his presidency.

Rea Carey, the group’s executive director, said in an interview that “If a private company can take its own religious beliefs and say you can’t have access to certain health care, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them. We disagree with that trend. The implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear.”

If ENDA is enacted as written, private companies will hardly be “compelled” to assert a right to fire (or not hire) gays based on religious reasons. Some private companies may choose to assert such a right. They will face an uphill battle in most courts, but a few — those who can meet the burden of proving a sincere religious belief mandating that they discriminate against their fellow man due to sexual preference — may prevail.

But this affront to gay rights amounts to nothing compared to the benefits of the legislation. As The Human Rights Campaign — a gay rights group that continues to support ENDA — says, ENDA will provide workplace protections to millions of LGBT people.

I understand, though I do not agree with, the antipathy of the gay rights movement towards the notion that religion should pose any barrier, however tiny, to their agenda. But in this case, the movement itself is erecting a significant barrier to what should be the core item in its agenda.

I presented my views on ENDA here.


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