The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Monday evening on the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” legislation that supporters say offers basic workplace protections for homosexuals and transgendered Americans, but critics warn it will force businesses to cater to bizarre behaviors and force anyone who disagrees with those lifestyles to keep their mouths shut.
The legislation, also known as ENDA, would forbid employers from firing or refusing to hire anyone because of their sexual orientation or for asserting a different “gender identity” than their anatomy suggests. Supporters say protections in those areas are no different than longstanding bans on employment decisions made on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, religion or disability.
But others contend there is a vast difference between judging a person on their skin color versus their 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.”
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.
Now ENDA has returned.
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., expressed Gohmert's concern.
"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.
The Family Research Council this week urged constituents to contact members of the Senate to ask them to oppose the plan. The dramatic vote Monday will be to cut off debate and proceed to a final vote. That requires 60 votes. Sprigg said supporters may have 59 votes right now, so anyone concerned about the legislation need to contact their senator. House passage would be unlikely, but Sprigg fears Senate passage could build momentum and backers might even try to mount a discharge petition, which would bring the Senate bill to a House vote without committee consideration or the consent of GOP House leaders.
"Employers know best what qualities or characteristics are relevant to performing a particular job, not the federal government. So why does Congress want to inject itself into business owners employment decisions?" an FRC email asked.
"This is the question that needs to be asked as the Senate moves to vote on the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit businesses from taking into account any conduct related to 'actual or perceived sexual identity or gender identity' when making employment decisions even if it violates their religious beliefs or if it is inappropriate for their workplace."
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.
"Please contact your senators and urge them to oppose S. 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as it imposes on employers freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of conscience and the free market economy," FRC said.
MSNBC's Steve Benen lobbied for the law.
"As a rule, when Republicans balk at the issue, they tend to say this is an issue that should be left to the states – they don't endorse employment discrimination, the argument goes, but it's not an issue the federal government should address," he wrote. "The counter-argument is pretty straightforward: if you're a policymaker comfortable with federal anti-discrimination laws to protect women and minority groups, then you have no reason to oppose ENDA. Either you're willing to tolerate employment discrimination or you're not."
Most of the Democrats in the Senate are expected to support the radical move. Among the possible Republican supporters Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Reid told the Washington Post just days ago that he thinks he now has 60 votes for the bill.
Pro-homosexual activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign reportedly have spent $2 million to try to convince Congress to adopt the plan.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney didn't make any promises, saying there is much work to be done, but he said he hopes and expects the Senate to pass it, according to the Washington Post.
WND CEO and Editor Joseph Farah recently pointed out the consequences of hate-crime laws, citing a proposal in San Antonio.
Farah said that "on the face of it," the law would bar "anyone from office who has 'demonstrated a bias' against someone based on categories that include 'sexual orientation.'"
The proposal does not define "bias," he wrote, which, "according to local church leaders, could mean someone who declares homosexual behavior is sinful, as the Bible clearly does."
"'Bias,' in other words, is not necessarily an act of discrimination. It is a thought crime," he wrote.
WND also reported when the Department of Justice launched a hate-crimes campaign that went beyond urging tolerance, demanding approval.
The DOJ said:
- “DON’T remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
- DO use a transgender person’s chosen name and the pronoun that is consistent with that person’s self-identified gender.
- DON’T use words and phrases like “gay lifestyle,” “sexual preference” or “tranny” that are considered by many as offensive.
- DO deal with offensive jokes and comments forcefully and swiftly when presented with evidence that they have occurred in the workplace.
- DO speak to employees, including LGBT employees, about their experiences at work, and solicit their ideas for how to make the workplace more inclusive.
- DO consider coming out of the closet if you are LGBT and not out at work. The presence of visible LGBT managers communicates that your office is open and accepting.
House Democrats, building on the Obamacare vote that depended entirely on Democrats, tried several years ago to push the homosexual jobs protection plan through.
But the move quickly collapsed.
It previously had surfaced during the Bush administration, but was opposed by many.
At that time, Shari Rendall, director of legislation and public policy for Concerned Women for America, said the bill "would unfairly extend special privileges based upon an individual's changeable sexual behaviors, rather than focusing on immutable, non-behavior characteristics such as skin color or gender. Its passage would both overtly discriminate against and muzzle people of faith."