Ending employment discrimination
based on sexual orientation
Opposition to ENDA bills (1990s).
ENDA developments (1997 to 2002)
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:
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.
Most conservative groups promote the belief that homosexuality
is a choice, and that people can change their
sexual orientation through prayer and reparative
||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:
||Kristi S. Hamrick, Director of Communications for The Family Research Council
-- 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
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
surveys. The wording of the questions asked in that poll may have been
||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.]
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.]
||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.]
||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
||ENDA would lead to quotas for gays and lesbians [Quotas are specifically prohibited by
||The Capitol Hill Prayer Alert athttp://www.prayeralert.org/ 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: |
ENDA is a "pro-homosexual measure."
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.]
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.]
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
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.]
They ask readers to pray "That God will CRUSH ENDA, whatever form it may
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:
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.
||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."
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,
"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
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
Republican leaders vowed to not bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.
The bill did not proceed.
ENDA developments during 1999:1999-JUN:
President Clinton asked congress to pass ENDA. 3
The AFL-CIO strongly urged congress to pass ENDA. 4
||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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Associated Press, "Shays Brings Back Legislation to Ban Anti-Gay
Discrimination", 1997-JUN-10 (PM)
J.E. Rigdon, "Overcoming a Deep-Rooted Reluctance, More Firms Advertise to Gay
Community,", Wall Street Journal, 1991-JUL-18, Page 1B
President Clinton's statement at: http://ofcn.org/cyber.serv/
AFL/CIO statemnt and a list of organizations supporting ENDA can be found
on National Pride at Work web site at: http://www.igc.org/
Copyright © 1997 to 2009 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson