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Employment Non-Discrimination Act Passes 60-Vote Threshold to Move Forward PDF Print E-mail
Nov 04, 2013 at 08:39 PM

Grassroots LGBT Group Still Opposes Broad and Unnecessary Religious Exemptions in Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate reached the 60-vote threshold on cloture needed to move forward with debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—the first time this has happened in the Senate in nearly 20 years. GetEQUAL—a national grassroots social justice organization working for the full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans—issued the following statement in response:

"Earlier today, we delivered nearly 6,000 petition signatures asking for our allies Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Al Franken to stand up against the broad religious exemption in ENDA. Our members from coast to coast have spoken very clearly that the LGBT community deserves a bill that protects us now and in the future against religious bigotry.

The current religious exemptions can potentially harm our community by allowing religiously-affiliated institutions from schools to hospitals have the legal permission to discriminate against LGBT workers. Even worse, it cements discrimination into law, and sets a backward precedent that affirms the second-class citizenship of LGBT Americans.

Although Senator Reid’s move to bring ENDA to the Senate floor for debate is a historic day for our community, we cannot remain silent about the potential harm of the current broad religious exemptions in the bill. It is not enough for our community to work only for what we think we can get -- we must demand what we deserve. This is why GetEQUAL will continue asking for our allies in the Senate to publicly oppose ENDA's broad religious exemption from the Senate floor."

The link to GetEQUAL's online petition can be found here:http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6535/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15653.

Just a few weeks ago, news broke that a teacher at a Catholic school in Arkansas had been fired minutes after marrying her same-sex partner in New Mexico: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/10/22/2814921/catholic-school-fires-teacher-marrying/. Unfortunately, ENDA as it is currently written would likely not protect teachers at religiously-affiliated schools from LGBT workplace discrimination—even for those who are working in positions that are in no way related to the teaching of religion.

These kinds of exemptions also establish a legal precedent for religious discrimination that impacts more than just LGBT equality—it could also impact pending court cases addressing the rights of employees to have access to birth control and other reproductive health services. Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL, recently published an op-ed that tackles why it is important to resist these kinds of religious exemptions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-cronk/we-deserve-more-than-aste_1_b_4101183.html.


GetEQUAL is a national grassroots social justice organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org. You can also follow GetEQUAL on Facebook at www.facebook.com/getequal or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/getequal.

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