Republished with permission from
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters
By Alvin McEwen
This year, there is a good chance that Congress could pass a transgender-inclusive ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act).
However, not if the American Family Association can help it.
I found some talking points from the religious right group regarding ENDA. They are nothing more than evasions and appeals to fears about “gay sex” and “men invading women’s restrooms.”
I am posting the talking points and including a refutation with each one:
AFA – ENDA (H.R. 2981 – H.R. 3017 – S. 1584) has been changed from the “gay-only” version the House passed in 2007 to include language banning job discrimination based on “gender identity” as well as sexual orientation – complete with special protections for the transgendered. It would mean your child’s teacher, if he were a male but “felt” like a female, could go into the women’s bathroom.
Refutation – There have been many transgender-inclusive job discrimination bills passed statewide and citywide (including my city of Columbia, SC) but there has NEVER been a case of a man “claiming to feel like a female” invading women’s bathrooms.
AFA – ENDA is aimed at providing heightened protections for a particular sexual behavior – homosexuality. It would grant special consideration on the basis of “sexual orientation” that would not be extended to other employees in the workplace.
Refutation – Potential employees are already federally protected in the case of race, religion, gender, and national origin. Adding sexual orientation does not single out gays and lesbians any more than gender singles out solely women or men.
AFA – ENDA violates employers’ and employees’ Constitutional freedoms of religion, speech and association. The proposed legislation would prohibit employers from taking their deeply held beliefs into account when making personnel decisions. This would pose an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into people’s lives.
Refutation – Translation: If a manager at a restaurant has a “deeply held belief” that homosexuality is a sin, he or she should have the right to fire an lgbt employee; at least that is what the AFA believes. However “deeply held beliefs” are no excuse for discrimination of any stripe. Also one could argue there is already “federal intrusion” in people’s lives with the protections in the cases of race, religion, gender, and national origin.
AFA – ENDA would approvingly bring private behavior considered immoral by many into the public square. By declaring that all sexual preferences are equally valid, ENDA would change national policy supporting marriage and family.
Refutation – By private behavior, AFA is implying sexual behavior. ENDA says nothing about sexual behavior. If “national policy supporting marriage and family” is changed, then it is a good thing. Not all families are heterosexually-oriented. Also, several states already offer lgbts the right to marry. A national policy regarding families and marriage should embrace this change rather than adhere to someone’s narrow view of family and marriage.
AFA – HRC claims that ENDA does not apply to religious organizations, but the 2007 version of the law only provided a religious exemption for religious positions that were involved in actual teaching or proclamation of doctrine. Such a limited exemption, some pro-family legal experts argue, would mean that a Christian school that was hiring a secretary, janitor or football coach would not be allowed to reject a homosexual who applied for the slot.
Refutation – That’s simply not true. This version of ENDA has a more detailed explanation of religious exemptions (Section 6).
This was the same detailed exemptions included in the 2007 version of ENDA. An article in the Roundtable of Religion and Social Welfare Policy described the exemptions as followed:
“ENDA has three subsections with specific exemptions for religious organizations. The first says the law will not apply to a religious organization or educational institution that has a “primary purpose” to teach religion or spread doctrine. This would include houses of worship, parochial schools, and religious missions.
Institutions that would not be wholly exempted by this first subsection include schools, universities, hospitals and social service agencies operated by religious organizations but that do not have a primary purpose of teaching religion.
The second subsection excludes employees whose “primary” duty is to spread religious doctrine and involves spiritual teaching or ministerial governance. This would include chaplains and teachers of nonreligious subjects, even if they work at institutions that are not exempted such as hospitals, social service agencies or universities.
With respect to other employees, the third subsection says the religious institutions that are not exempt may still require workers to conform to the institution’s religious beliefs about sexual orientation. For example, the bill would allow a religiously-affiliated hospital to refuse to hire or to fire doctors and nurses who engage in same-sex conduct.”
Even with these talking points, the battle to pass ENDA is still half done. As we have seen with the health care town hall meetings last month, it’s not just about having the correct information, it’s about the ability to be able to get your information out there and define the argument.
And the religious right with their allies on the blogs and Fox News won’t make this easy.
If the lgbt community and our allies are to get ENDA passed, we have to not only know how to counter the lies but be able to weave our way through the intricasies of how these lies are spread.
And we need to start getting ready now.