Early bill to end employment discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity
An early Federal Employment
About ENDA laws in general:
"ENDA" refers here to various employment non-discrimination acts
intended to give employment protection to persons of all sexual orientations. It
should not be confused with the following unrelated entities:
"ENDA third world." This refers to "environmental development
action in the third world.
||"ENDA" the rock band.
||Saint Enda of Aran, an Irish saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
Any law which criminalizes discrimination in employment on the basis of
sexual orientation and/or gender identity has two effects:
It is impossible to protect one group's right to be considered fairly for
jobs without interfering with another group's right to discriminate. Connie
Mackey, vice president of government affairs with the Family Research Council,
(a fundamentalist Christian organization) said in 2002-APR that the ENDA bill to
criminalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation runs counter to
the Bill of Rights. She said:
"ENDA will require Americans to hire people they believe
to be committing immoral acts, precisely because they commit those acts. It
violates employers' and employees' freedom of religion, of speech and
It is worth noting that much of the media discussion on this bill is factually
incorrect. For example, another fundamentalist Christian organization, Focus on
the Family, reported that "Senators have renewed their push to grant special
rights for homosexuals in the workplace." 1 In reality,
the bill would give no more rights to persons with a homosexual orientation than
it would to a person with a heterosexual or bisexual orientation. A heterosexual
who was refused a job as a bartender in a gay bar on the basis of his sexual
orientation could sue for damages just as a homosexual could sue if she or he
were refused a manufacturing job making widgets in a factory on the basis of their
sexual orientation. If gays and lesbians receive "special rights" as a
result of this bill, then heterosexuals and bisexuals would receive those same "special
rights" -- making them universal rights, not special rights.
About early federal Employment Non-Discrimination bills (ENDA):
A bill was introduced into the US congress in the mid 1970's which would do for gays
and lesbians what various civil rights bills had done for African-Americans, women and
others. It went nowhere.
In 1994, a stripped-down version of the bill was introduced to Congress; it had
limited range, guaranteeing only freedom from discrimination in employment. It was called
the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA, and was widely viewed as a bill
supported only by the fantasies of liberals in the Democratic party. It also did
In 1995, Rep. Studds introduced H.R.1863. The "digest" section of the bill
- This Act does not apply to the provision of employee benefits for the benefit of an
employee's partner; and
- A disparate impact does not establish a prima facie violation of this Act. Prohibits
quotas and preferential treatment.
Declares that this Act does not apply to:
- religious organizations (except in their for-profit activities);
- the Armed Forces; or
- laws creating special rights or preferences for veterans.
Provides for enforcement. Disallows State immunity. Makes the United States liable for
all remedies (except punitive damages) to the same extent as a private person. Allows
recovery of attorney's fees. Prohibits retaliation and coercion. Requires posting notices
for employees and applicants.
This bill was supported by President Clinton in 1995-OCT. He said that if the bill
were passed, it would guarantee that:
"... all Americans, regardless of their sexual
orientation, can find and keep their jobs based on their ability to work and the quality
of their work."
It was also supported by: the Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights, by many large corporations (AT&T, Eastman Kodak, Microsoft, RJR Nabisco,
Quaker Oats, and Xerox), and by many liberal and mainline religious organizations, including the National
Council of Churches, National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, Southern
Christian Leadership Conference, and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
When the Defense of Marriage Act (the anti-gay marriage bill) was considered by
the Senate, a bipartisan coalition attempted to attach the ENDA bill, as an amendment.
Republican leaders eventually compromised by separating the two bills and
allowing ENDA to be brought forward for a separate vote. It
was reintroduced in 1996-SEP with the backing of the House and Senate Democratic
The bill was characterized by conservative Republicans as controversial, immoral, and
un-American. This time, it actually made it to a Senate vote; it was narrowly defeated 49
to 50. Although it was not passed in the Senate, and would not have had any chance at all
in the House, this close vote still represents a stunning victory for basic
lesbian/gay civil rights in a Republican controlled Senate.
The critical wording in the 1996 version of ENDA is contained in its Section 2:
"A covered entity, in connection with employment or employment opportunities, shall not
- subject an individual to different standards or treatment on the basis of sexual
- discriminate against an individual based on the sexual orientation of persons with whom
such an individual is believed to associate or to have associated; or
- otherwise discriminate against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation"
The bill would ban any affirmative action policy which might benefit gays and
lesbians. The Military, religious organizations, and employers with fewer than 15
employees would be allowed to continue to discriminate against workers on the
basis of their sexual orientation. In practice, this would victimize bisexuals
and homosexuals. It would not
require companies to give equal employee benefits to all workers, regardless of sexual
orientation. The bill would not be retroactive.
of ENDA are either hopelessly misinformed or intentionally lie about the bill's
It is worth noting that the bill will protect the rights of heterosexual and bisexual
workers as well as gays and lesbians.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
The House version of the ENDA bill (H.R. 2015) can be read at:
The Human Rights Campaign" has a resource page on ENDA at:
M.D. Tooley, "ENDA: Forcing America to subsidize gay
behavior," at: http://www.liberty.edu/
This is no longer online.
Deb Price of the Detroit News had a column on ENDA on 1996-SEP-27, predicting the
chances of its passage in 1997. This is no longer online. However, Googling
"deb price" "detroit news" enda
returns many dozens of her more recent articles.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has some material on ENDA at:
Search for "ENDA " at http://www.aclu.org/
The ACLU has a list of success stories against oppression and
References used in the above essay:
Stuart Shepard, "ENDA passes Senate committee," 2002-APR-30, at:
http://www.family.org/ This report is no longer online.
Copyright © 1997 to 2009 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson