It took the support of a handful of Republicans in the U.S. Senate this week to move forward a bill that provides special job protections and guarantees for homosexuals and transgenders and, according to critics, makes churches and religious organizations vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits.
And the Republican members who took that position, which is out of synch with the party’s rank and file, may have risked a backlash at the polls for a bill that likely won’t survive in the U.S. House
Republican House Speaker John Boehner already has said he doesn’t support the bill, which means it may not even get a vote in the House.
The seven Republicans who backed the Obama administration’s homosexual agenda are Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Roll Call reported the only benefit the Republicans received from the Democratic Party leadership for their support of the bill was that their proposed amendments would get a vote.
Portman proposes an exemption for religious organizations from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, so they won’t be vulnerable to lawsuits for refusing to hire someone who openly violates their beliefs and standards.
Toomey’s amendment would broaden exemptions for churches. But the report noted that it is not expected to be adopted.
Kirk explained his vote was on behalf of civil rights, crediting the tradition of Everett McKinley Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, “men who gave us the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.”
The Daily Beast reported there undoubtedly will be political backlash.
The seven Republican votes gives the bill more than 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.
“A number of senators are taking significant political risks by voting for ENDA,” the report said. “Regardless of what happens in the house and whether the GOP leadership allows a vote on ENDA, the Senate’s vote will have political consequences.”
CBS reported that now that the filibuster obstacle has been removed, “the bill is now all but sure to pass in the Senate.”
But Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said it will meet resistance in the House.
“The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”
Critics warn the plan will force businesses to cater to bizarre behaviors and silence anyone who disagrees with them.
ENDA would forbid employers from firing or refusing to hire anyone because of their sexual orientation or for asserting a different “gender identity.” Supporters say the protections are no different than longstanding bans on employment decisions made on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, religion or disability.
But others contend judging a person based on skin color is vastly different than on sexual behavior.
“There’s a reason why we don’t allow discrimination based on race, which is that it’s a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous and in the Constitution,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow in policy studies at the Family Research Council, told WND in a radio interview. “All of those criteria apply to race. None of them applies to the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or in cross-dressing behavior, which is what gender identity deals with.”
Sprigg further asserted that ENDA would result in unwarranted government meddling into the freedom business owners ought to have in selecting their employees.
“The general assumption should be that employers know best what is a relevant qualification for their employees,” he said. “So any expansion of a list of restrictions like this constitutes further federal government intrusion into what normally is a free-market decision. We need to approach the whole issue from that perspective.”
Liberty Counsel, in a statement about ENDA, said it "is an anti-free speech, anti-freedom of religion, and anti-business bill masquerading as a 'civil rights' issue. It is a direct attack on every American's liberties, including those who are foolishly pushing for its passage."
At about the time several years ago when Congress members were working on a "gay"-friendly "hate crimes" law that President Obama eventually signed, homosexual activists were lobbying for ENDA.
But at least partly because of the uproar over the hate-crimes plan, it fell by the wayside.
Since then, nevertheless, the Obama administration has worked to introduce open homosexuality in the U.S. military and abandoned federal recognition of traditional marriage through the Defense of Marriage Act.
The hate crimes plan generated controversy because of concerns it could be used to prosecute Christian pastors and others who preach the biblical condemnation of homosexuality.
The federal hate crimes law ultimately was dubbed the "Pedophile Protection Act" by opponents who cited the efforts of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to add an amendment stating the "term sexual orientation as used in this act or any amendments to this act does not include pedophilia."
Majority Democrats refused to accept the amendment.
During the discussion of the hate-crimes plan, Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, a former judge, explained how the rejection by the House of King's amendment would be read should a pedophile claim protection under the law.
"Having reviewed cases as an appellate judge, I know that when the legislature has the chance to include a definition and refuses, then what we look at is the plain meaning of those words," explained Gohmert at the time.
"The plain meaning of sexual orientation is anything to which someone is orientated. That could include exhibitionism, it could include necrophilia (sexual arousal/activity with a corpse) ... it could include urophilia (sexual arousal associated with urine), voyeurism. You see someone spying on you (while you are) changing clothes and you hit them, they've committed a misdemeanor, you've committed a federal felony under this bill. It is so wrong."
One supporter of the hate crimes bill, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., illustrated Gohmert's concerned, acknowledging that people who engage in deviant behavior of many kinds would be protected.
"This bill addresses our resolve to end violence based on prejudice and to guarantee that all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability or all of these 'philias' and fetishes and 'isms' that were put forward need not live in fear because of who they are," Hastings said.
While advocates claim that a job-site nondiscrimination law would protect homosexuals, lesbians, transgenders and others from unfair firings, family advocates warn that it would do more.
A lot more.
FRC noted that ENDA would "force religious business owners and workplaces such as Christian bookstores, religious publishing houses, pre-schools and religious television and radio stations to accept as normal any employee who has had a sex-change surgery, any employee who has changed or is 'transitioning' their public 'gender identity' (regardless of whether they have had surgery or hormone treatments), transvestites (people who dress as the opposite sex on an occasional basis for emotional or sexual gratification), and drag queens or drag kings (people who dress as the opposite sex for the purpose of entertaining others)."
The warning continued: "Making matters worse, 'perceived gender identity' status does not require sex-change surgery, so ENDA would allow some biological males (who claim to be female) to enter and even appear nude before females in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. Situations like this have already been reported in several states with ENDA like laws such as Maine, Colorado and California."
Such problems already have been reported where local or state laws make the same demands as ENDA, FRC said.