ACLU and Gay Rights Groups Withdraw Support For ENDA

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, passed the Senate last fall but is no longer receiving support from the ACLU and other gay rights groups. Support was withdrawn after gay rights advocates cited concern over an employer exemption for employees who object to homosexuality on religious grounds. The withdrawal also reflects the serious impact of the Hobby Lobby case, which gives private employers the right to deny insurance coverage with contraception on religious grounds.

pride-634188-mThe religious exemption was added last year in an effort to attract Republican support to help pass the bill. Critics of the exemption say that it is too broad and that it gives employers the right to discriminate against in gays in the workplace. Fortunately, California employees are protected by state law, but the contentious exemption and withdrawn support from ENDA demonstrates the struggle faced by gays seeking equal protection in the workplace. Our employment attorneys in Orange County are dedicated to providing strategic and aggressive support to individuals who have suffered from discrimination. We are also informed and abreast of local, state, and federal legal changes that impact the lives of employees.

According to reports, the ACLU and other gay rights groups have spoken out, arguing that the religious exemption could give some organizations, including hospitals and universities, the ability to engage in workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. Other groups, including The Human Rights Campaign has maintained its support for ENDA, recognizing that there are currently millions of workers in the LGBT community who currently have no federal protections.

Currently, ENDA is being stalled by House Republicans who oppose the bill and it may not ever get a vote. In addition to ENDA, the executive order as promised by President Obama is also being disputed. Obama announced last month that he would sign an executive order that would prohibit government contractors from discriminating against the LGBT community. Again, religious organizations and Christian-affiliated politicians have pressed the President for a religious exemption similar to that included in ENDA. Now the groups are using the ENDA exemption to mirror what should happen in the executive order. Representatives from the ACLU are urging that the legislation not go forward, given the potential harm of an executive order.

Despite support from the White House for ENDA with its religious exemption, gay rights advocates do not expect an additional exemption to be included in the executive order. ENDA, the comprehensive civil rights bill, is the first federal protection extended to members of the LGBT community. Whether or not ENDA passes, workers in California who have suffered from discrimination have the legal right to take action against their employers.

While many groups have withdrawn their support, it continues to represent a hopeful and inclusive piece of legislation aimed at protecting gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered employees. ENDA was first introduced in 1994 and similar legislation has been introduced, but never passed, since 1974. In 2007, legislators added gender identify protections. LGBT groups and the community has long been divided on support over modifications of the bill, including the measure which added members of the transgendered community during the Bush presidency.

Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

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LGBT Workplace Discrimination Statistics, December 30, 2013, Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Blog