When the ENDA bill was introduced to Congress in 2007, the more conservative elements of both the Democratic and Republican Parties balked at the thought of giving basic human rights to transgender people.
The Human Rights Campaign and the sponsor, Congressman Barney Frank, encountering this resistance, the HRC—without discussing the situation with their board of directors (that included several transgender members)—Frank and the HRC summarily threw the transgender people under the bus and reintroduced a version of the bill without transgender protections. The resulting anger coming from all sectors of the LGBT community caused such resistance that, even though the bill passed the House, the petitions that came rolling into the Senate to reinstate the transgender protections, none of the Passage of this version of ENDA will insure that anti-gay, perfidious Christians like Bryan Fisher will not only win, but will have fresh ammunition against the LGBT community.Senators were willing to pass the bill since they saw the our community stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our transgender brothers and sisters.
Now, for the first time since that debacle, ENDA is back, and it’s even more seriously flawed than 2007. Sure, this one includes transgender rights; however, there is a huge escape hatch in this bill that makes it completely worthless.
This version of ENDA allows people with religious convictions against homosexuality and gender identity to be exempt from the enforcements of the bill.
Now just imagine if you will, a gay man comes out at work and he begins to get harassment from his co-workers and even from his boss. It gets so bad that he becomes ineffective at his job and his boss lets him go. The man sues under ENDA and when they get to court, his ex-boss gets on the stand and claims homosexuality is against his religious convictions. Game over!
Just how much good will these laws help for those who live in the Bible-Belt? States like Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have already driven a good deal of the LGBT population out, but for those who still live in those states, this new ENDA bill won’t make even a little difference in their lives.
So after Senate passage, should this extremely flawed bill die in the House, we really should not shed a tear.
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