Testimony by representatives
of outside religious & secular groups
If signed into law, the bill would make it illegal for employers to hire,
refuse to hire, fire, demote or refuse to promote an individual based on his or
her real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
GLBT is an acronym for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
Rabbi Saperstein's testimony:
Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said:
"Our belief in ENDA?s importance stems from a core teaching shared by an
array of faith traditions, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. In the words of Genesis,
(1:27), 'And God created humans in God?s own image, in the image of God, God
created them; male and female God created them.' We oppose discrimination
against all individuals, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender men
and women, for the stamp of the Divine is imprinted on the souls of each and
every one of us. ...
"We also believe this legislation to be a wise and measured civil rights bill
that addresses the scourge of employment discrimination and upholds the values
on which our nation was founded, equality and justice chief among them. Indeed,
the struggle for equality is a defining narrative of our nation. From the
abolition movement, to the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement to the
gay rights movement, women and minorities in this nation have worked tirelessly
to achieve equal rights as guaranteed them in the founding visions of the United
States. It is this vision too that compels us to support ENDA."
He believes that the special exemption -- written in the bill to allow
religious organizations to continue to discriminate on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity -- to be important. He testified:
"This legislation is not an endorsement of any particular religious
viewpoint and it does not interfere with religious beliefs about gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgender people. ENDA simply ensures that workers are judged
and rewarded based on their qualifications and performance, rather than on
irrelevant and prejudicial factors. At the same time, it protects the right of
religious communities to make their own employment decisions in this sensitive
He feels that the U.S. is:
"... long past the point when our laws should permit discrimination against
any individual because of their sexual orientation. Just as we do not tolerate
behavior that discriminates based on race, gender, national origin or
religion, so should we be clear about discrimination based on the
characteristic of being gay or lesbian. ? It is time for our laws to reflect
these values and allow members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
community to live their professional lives without fear of discrimination or
the pressure to hide their true identity."
Testimony by a fired transgender employee:
Vandy Beth Glenn is transgender and was previously employed as an aid at
the Georgia General Assembly in 2007. She told her supervisor that she was
transitioning from male to female. On 2007-OCT-16, Sewell Brumby, legislative
counsel to the General Assembly and head of her office, asked to speak with her.
"Mr. Brumby told me that people would think I was immoral. He told me I'd
make other people uncomfortable, just by being myself. He told me that my
transition was unacceptable. And, over and over, he told me it was
She was fired on the spot, escorted to her desk, told to clean it out of any
personal items, and marched out of the building.
"The only thing that changed was my gender ? and because of that, the
legislature I'd worked so hard for no longer had any use for my skills. I was
With the help of Lambda Legal, she launched a federal lawsuit during 2008-JUL
-- Glenn v. Brumby -- against the Georgia General Assembly. She is not seeking
monetary damages. She merely wants her job back. With no federal ENDA law in
place, she may have a difficult time obtaining a ruling in her favor. 5
YouTube has a video available of her testimony:
You Tube also has eight other videos containing ENDA testimony.
See the thumbnail images above after playing this video.
Testimony by Craig Parshall of the NRB:
Craig Parshall is the Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for the
National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). Its membership is actually a group of
Christian TV, radio and Internet broadcasters, schools and colleges;
non-Christian media are excluded. All, or the vast majority, of their membership
are composed of fundamentalist or other evangelical faith groups.
The NRB feels that the ENDA bill:
"... would impose a substantial and crippling
burden on religious organizations, both those who are non-profit groups, as
well as faith-based institutions and enterprises which operate commercially.
"H.R. 3017 prohibits employment discrimination regarding the 'actual or
perceived sexual orientation or gender identity' of any person. Sec. 6
purports to provide an exemption for 'a corporation, association, educational institution, or
society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil
However, he feels that the religious "discrimination provisions" are
ambiguous and might not protect the freedom of faith groups to discriminate
against GLBT persons.
He notes that federal law does not define precisely what constitutes a
religious organization. So some faith groups might be considered secular in
nature and forced to stop discriminating against their employees on the basis of
sexual orientation or gender identity. He cited court cases where:
A Jewish community center was ruled to be a religious organization.
A Christian charity that alleviates poverty worldwide was considered a
A Methodist orphan's home was ruled to be not a religious organization.
The Christian Science Monitor, which covers primarily secular news, was
ruled to be a religious organization.
A private Protestant religious school in Hawaii was denied a religious
Within the NRB are about 200 Christian radio stations"... that are
commercial in their organizational structure." The FCC regulations allow
religious broadcasters to discrimination in employment on the basis of religion,
but not on race or gender. It is not clear whether the ENDA bill would supersede
these regulations. Thus, they stations may be denied the opportunity to continue
discriminating against LGBT employees or potential employees.
"Neither the Congress nor the courts have jurisdiction over the religious
beliefs of people
of faith. Holding the faithful in contempt because they advance unpopular
doctrines itself evidences a form of cultural discrimination. Christian
object to those sexual preferences which are in clear violation of the standards
Bible are standing on a long and well-worn road. Those doctrines are
the Old and New Testaments and have endured for several thousand years.
preach and practice those beliefs spring from a Bill of Rights that is two
twenty years old, and in turn which reach back to hundreds of years of English
law. Against all of that comes H.R. 3017 and similar measures, which can claim
newly-minted a set of sexual orientation and gender-identity privileges which,
are just a few decades old in their very recent cultural currency.
We urge this Committee not to jettison the paramount rights of people of faith.
that happens here, it means that we have set ourselves on a very dangerous path,
departure from those basic liberties for which our Founders risked their lives,
fortunes and their sacred honor. 6
With one exception, he uses the term "sexual preference" in place of "sexual
orientation" as is used in the ENDA bill and by all other persons who testified. This
is a common expression used by religious and social conservatives. It implies that
lesbians and gays are, in reality, all bisexual. Thus they are attracted to both men
and women, and merely prefer to have a relationship with a same-sex person.
This belief is essentially unique to religious and social conservatives and is
not shared by the LGBT movement, religious liberals, or
professional mental health associations.
Testimony by Brad Sears of the Williams Institute:
Brad Sears is executive director of the Williams Institute. This group
specializes in sexual orientation law at the University of California, Los
Angeles (UCLA). He testified that his group's research reveals that
discrimination is frequently experienced by LGBT persons. He said:
"We find no difference between the patterns of employment discrimination
against LGBT people in the public sector and in the private sector, and no
difference in the patterns of such discrimination against LGBT workers in
state versus local government agencies."
Citing results from his group's meta-study of 80 surveys, he discussed a:
Survey showing that one in five GLBT people
working in the public sector reported having been discriminated against on the
basis of their sexual orientation.
Survey of more than 1,900 LGBT employees in state university systems
across the country. 13% reported having discriminatory treatment or harassment in
the previous year.
He cited previous surveys showing that GLBT persons employed in the private
sector are paid from 8 to 23% less than others for the same work. They found
that in the public sector, GLBT persons were underpaid by 8 to 29%.
Negative comment by committee member:
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the committee's senior GOP member said that many of
the issues raised in the 2007 version of ENDA had not been resolved. Apparently
referring to protection of all Americans on the basis of their perceived gender
identity, he said:
"H.R. 3017 represents a significant departure from longstanding civil
rights law. It creates an entirely new protected class that is vaguely defined
and often subjective."
He was also concerned about protecting people on the basis of their
"perceived" sexual orientation. He said:
"Attempting to legislate individual perceptions is truly uncharted
territory, and it does not take a legal scholar to recognize that such vaguely
defined protections will lead to an explosion in litigation and inconsistent
Barney Frank responded by noting that many states had enacted similar
workplace protection laws, without a backlog of legal challenges against
employers. He said:
"The opponents of discrimination predict disruption and it never happens.
The secret about anti-discrimination legislation is that it becomes very hard
to enforce. They have historically been under-enforced rather than
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issues statement:
The ADL issued the following statement on the ENDA bill:
"We welcome these committee hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA). In 2009, it is unacceptable that, in more than half the states, it is
not illegal to fire someone simply because of that person?s sexual orientation
or gender identity. Support for ENDA sends an important message to all
Americans that this form of discrimination will not be tolerated in the
"Opinion polls demonstrate that the American people support equal treatment in
the workplace, and the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies have policies
protecting gay employees from discrimination."
"We strongly believe that employment decisions such as hiring, firing, promotion
and compensation should be based on merit, performance and ability ? and never
on the basis of an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity." 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Chris Johnson, "House hears ENDA testimony. Frank, Baldwin push for
trans-inclusive bill at hearing," Washington Blade, 2009-SEP-23, at:
"Written Testimony of Craig L. Parshall Senior Vice-President and General
Counsel National Religious Broadcasters," Committee on Education and Labor,
http://edlabor.house.gov/ This is a PDF file.