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Ending employment discrimination
based on sexual orientation

Opposition to ENDA bills (1990s).
ENDA developments (1997 to 2002)

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Source of opposition:

Much of the opposition comes from religious and social conservative agencies, para-church groups and some of their membership. Among the many root causes for this opposition are:

bullet Most groups promote a literal interpretation of the six biblical "clobber" passages that refer to same-sex behavior. They conclude that God hates homosexuality, and that sexually active gays and lesbians will never attain heaven.
bullet Most conservative groups promote the belief that homosexuality is a choice, and that people can change their sexual orientation through prayer and reparative therapy.
bullet Most teach that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals experience a high mortality rate due to sexually transmitted infections and suicide, which is in turn caused by their sexual behavior.

Most probably believe that an ENDA law would make life easier for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (GLBT) community, and that therefore more individuals will chose same-sex behavior and end up in Hell. They oppose the bill in order to encourage more GLBT individuals to seek change for their sexual orientation or identity.

These core beliefs are not shared by most religious liberals, secularists, mental health professionals, public health professionals, etc.

Opposition to ENDA during the 1990's:

bullet Kristi S. Hamrick, Director of Communications for The Family Research Council (FRC) -- a fundamentalist Christian group -- issued a news release on 1997-APR-24 titled "Pro-family America will Fight the ENDA Agenda of Putting Sex Into the Workplace". She made a number of following points.:
bullet A USA Weekend survey of 1997-APR-18 shows that most Americans do not support ENDA, by a margin of 55% to 45% [These survey results deviate greatly from all other surveys. The wording of the questions asked in that poll may have been biased.]
bullet ENDA will introduce a pro-gay bias in hiring. [since the words "gay," "lesbian,"  "homosexual," "heterosexual," and "bisexual" do not appear in the bill, there does not appear to be any way in which individuals of one sexual orientation could be favored by the bill.]
bullet ENDA will extend civil rights coverage from characteristics that cannot be changed, such as skin color, to sexual behaviors. [The implication is that sexual orientation can be changed. Professional mental health associations agree that it is a fixed characteristic in all or essentially all adults. Also the FRC overlooks the fact that religion, a chosen activity, is already a protected class, and that many people change their religion from time to time.]
bullet ENDA would prevent employers from disciplining any employee for any sexual act while on the job. [This is an interesting interpretation of the bill. ENDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; it would not prohibit discipline for persons of any sexual orientation found having sex on the job.]
bullet ENDA would give homosexuals special rights [In reality, persons of all sexual orientations are given equal rights; neither bisexuals, gays, heterosexuals or lesbians would be given special rights.]
bullet ENDA would lead to quotas for gays and lesbians [Quotas are specifically prohibited by ENDA.]
bullet The Capitol Hill Prayer Alert at asked that Christians pray against the ENDA bill. Their web site starts with an apparent reference to the early death of gays and lesbians: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32). Some points raised in their essay:
bullet ENDA is a "pro-homosexual measure.
bullet ENDA would be the first federal legislation that would "...extend special favor to people based on their chosen behavior..." [The bill gives equal protection to persons of all sexual orientations. Mental health professionals generally agree that adults do not choose their orientation, and all or essentially all cannot change it.]
bullet The bill will give protection to those involved in "...polygamy, incest, pedophilia, beastiality [sic] and other forms of sexual perversion." [It will not; it is limited to sexual orientation only.]
bullet Christian employers' "freedoms of religion, speech and association will be violently stripped away" by the bill. [They will not. Employers can continue to hate homosexuality or heterosexuality; they can hate homosexuals and heterosexuals as well. The bill only states that employers would be unable to discriminate against them. In the same way existing laws allow employers to hate persons of different races, genders, nationalities, etc. But they are unable to discriminate against them.]
bullet They ask readers to pray "That God will CRUSH ENDA, whatever form it may take."

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ENDA developments during 1997:

1997-JUN: Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and other sponsors brought forth a slightly modified form of the ENDA bill in early 1997-JUN. Changes include:
bullet The bill prohibits the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from collecting data on workers' sexual orientation or requiring quotas or preferential treatment of gays, lesbians, bisexuals or heterosexuals.
bullet Religious organizations would be exempt from the legislation.

Rep. Shays commented that the bill:

"is based on a fundamental principle most of us share: Americans should be judged at work because of their performance at work...It would guarantee that gay men and lesbians have the same opportunity the rest of us now take for granted: to get and keep a job based on the merits of the work we do and not on some characteristic we have that is entirely irrelevant to the value of our work." 1

Another sponsor, Rep. Barney Frank, (D-Mass), said:

"This bill simply says that you will be judged in the work place on the merits. Period...There is absolutely nothing to be said against it."

Robert Knight, director of cultural studies for The Family Research Council, commented:

"It will outlaw Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and every belief that says homosexuality is wrong...It will expand government power and give a massive weapon to gay activist lawyers to harass employers all over America."

The FRC is one of the main fundamentalist Christian organizations in the area of social policy. 

Kerry Lobel, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force stated on 1997-JUN-10:

"The message of ENDA is clear and straightforward. Discrimination is wrong. We look forward to the day when gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people no longer have to fear the loss of their jobs on the basis of their sexual orientation. When that day comes, our society will have taken another step forward in assuring justice and equality for all of its citizens."

On 1997-JUN, ENDA had the support of 34 senators and 146 members of the House.  Republican leaders vowed to not bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. The bill did not proceed.

ENDA developments during 1999:

bullet President Clinton asked congress to pass ENDA. 3
bullet The AFL-CIO strongly urged congress to pass ENDA.
bullet Bills were introduced into both the House and Senate on JUN-24: H.R. 2355, was sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Barney Frank (D-MA). S 1276 was sponsored by Senators James Jeffords (R-VT), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT).

They did not proceed.

ENDA developments during 2002:

bullet 2002-MAR: Senator Ted Kennedy, (D-MA) re-introduced an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as Senate bill S. 1284. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reviewed the bill.
bullet 2002-MAY: S. 1284, was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on MAY-1. Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, promised to introduce the bill to the Senate before the end of session in the fall of 2002.

"With 43 Senate co-sponsors, and poll numbers that suggest that a strong majority of Americans support equal opportunity in the workplace, ENDA is expected to pass the Senate, giving the GLBT community another rare congressional victory."

However, Republicans in the House prevented both ENDA and a bill to expand hate crime legislation to include women and homosexuals from proceeding.

References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Associated Press, "Shays Brings Back Legislation to Ban Anti-Gay Discrimination", 1997-JUN-10 (PM)
  2. J.E. Rigdon, "Overcoming a Deep-Rooted Reluctance, More Firms Advertise to Gay Community,", Wall Street Journal, 1991-JUL-18, Page 1B
  3. President Clinton's statement at:
  4. AFL/CIO statemnt and a list of organizations supporting ENDA can be found on National Pride at Work web site at:

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Copyright 1997 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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