WASHINGTON (RNS) As a law extending workplace protection to gay, bisexual and transgender workers makes its way through the Senate this week, there’s a shift in the political air: Arguments that stand purely on religious grounds are no longer holding the same degree of political sway they once did.

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. in 2011.

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. in 2011. Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The rhetoric from Republican and conservative opponents of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is moving away from the morality of the bedroom and into the business sphere. More politicians are fighting ENDA as a bad economic move, not as a break with the Bible.

ENDA would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement released Monday (Nov. 4), which made clear the Senate bill is dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House.

He echoed the views of Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who said in a statement released Tuesday that “a new federal mandate on businesses based on sexuality” would “burden businesses in an already struggling economy.”

The FRC stands on a three-point argument that the law would establish unjust interference with private employers, become a liberty threat to religious employers and exemplify an attempt by the left to “legislate the morality of the sexual revolution.”

However, Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the FRC, acknowledged the new dynamic around homosexuality as Americans increasingly support gay marriage and protections for gay Americans.

A Public Religion Research Institute survey released last May found 73 percent of Americans “favor employment laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from employment discrimination.” This included significant majorities of every major religious group, both political parties and political independents.

“There are some people in the Republican Party who don’t want to be associated with social conservatives, particularly on issues on homosexuality,” Sprigg said. “The homosexual movement has been effective in stigmatizing people who make moral arguments as bigoted.”

Sprigg observed that only one of the seven Republicans who voted Monday to lift a GOP filibuster — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — is up for re-election in 2014, and eight Republicans didn’t register votes at all.

Eric Rassbach photo courtesy The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said that for ENDA to become law it would need to be amended with “robust protections to protect most religious employers, but it is hard to write anything that will avoid an avalanche of employment discrimination legal cases.” Photo courtesy The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“It’s very disappointing that even those who would vote the right way are shying away from speaking out. There is fear in the heart of some politicians,” Sprigg said.

Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said that for ENDA to  become law it would need to be amended with “robust protections to protect most religious employers, but it is hard to write anything that will avoid an avalanche of employment discrimination legal cases.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops holds strongly to its opposition to ENDA but made clear that it nonetheless opposes “unjust discrimination” against gays and lesbians. ENDA is wrong, the bishops said, because it “rejects a biological basis for gender, equates sexual orientation with race, undermines marriage (and) threatens religious liberty.”

One of the clearest shifts in the decades-long debate over ENDA is that the loudest religious voices are now those who support the bill, not oppose it. A coalition of some 60 religious groups — ranging from Episcopalians to Reform Jews to the Islamic Society of North America — called ENDA a “measured, common sense solution that will ensure workers are judged on their merits, not on their personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Marie Griffith photo courtesy Washington University in St. Louis

R. Marie Griffith, director of the Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, said the shift is clear: “The religious case on this one issue is really dissolving.” Photo courtesy Washington University in St. Louis


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

R. Marie Griffith, director of the Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, said the shift is clear: “The religious case on this one issue is really dissolving.”

“Religion runs deep in our veins in American history. But religious views on this issue have shifted and you see growing tolerance for gay people. Younger conservative Christians have no problem (with their LGBT peers).”

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance, says politicians today are like pastors concerned with drawing in and keeping their flock.

“If you are a pastor, nothing speaks to you like members joining or leaving. Most families today have a member of the family who is in the LGBT community. Pastors — and politicians — see they will have to ease off the heavily judgmental, denunciatory preaching and the pervasiveness of `Nos’ and get to some `Yeses.’ You need to get on this side of history. … Discrimination just doesn’t play well in America ”

KRE/MG END GROSSMAN

27 Comments

    • Wrong = homosexuality is only sin full to some and not all there fore it is not all ways sin full .You do not get a monopoly on morality just because your religion says you are right , my religion says you are wrong.

      • CarrotCakeMan

        Let’s quantify Luke James’s accurate statement that not all denominations hate and fear LGBT Americans. The major Christian, Jewish and other denominations that are marrying same gender couples now are being denied their right to practice their religion freely in 35 US States. These denominations will marry same gender couples in 15 US States and the District of Columbia:

        Affirming Pentecostal Church International
        Alliance of Christian Churches
        The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
        Conservative Judaism
        Disciples Of Christ
        The Episcopal Church
        Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
        Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals
        Metropolitan Community Church
        Reconstructionist Judaism
        Reform Judaism
        Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
        Unitarian Universalist Church
        United Church of Christ

    • Whatever you think of it as a sin, that is no [expletive deleted] excuse for discriminating against someone in the workplace.

      It is clear being a self-righteous bigot is sinful, but it is no cause for firing you from a job in of itself

      • Larry, I agree with you on this point. My reason is that at the present time we do not have any understanding of the nature of sexual orientation, only some yet-to-proven hypotheses and theories about it. I do not believe that people consciously choose sexual attraction. I think it is well established that there’s a continuum regarding such attraction, with some being powerfully attracted only to the opposite gender and others having various degrees of attraction to the same gender.

        Our society, through the Congress, had decided in the past that the family should have certain “protections” or “accommodations” to help strengthen it and decided to use the tax code for this purpose. Perhaps some accommodations should be made for single-sex couples. That, or eliminate the deduction for everyone for reasons related to the fiscal solvency of the country. Given the fact that there are many two-income couples who by choice have no children or whose children are now on their own, we are stretching the definition of “family” as it relates to the tax code by allowing those “married without children, both employed” to retain the deduction. That would affect me, too. So what?

        This, however, does not alter my view that the traditional definition of marriage should remain as the only one. I suspect that those clamoring for a redefinition do not represent the majority of gays, but we also know that it is the “squeeky wheel” that always gets attention, deservedly or not.

        • I see you would rather not discuss the matter on its own facts.

          Single people are not a group subject to invidious discrimination in the workplace. Analogy fail on your part. Your attempt at pretending your opposition to marriage equality is based in something besides bigotry is just the kind of ridiculous word salad one expects from someone acting mendaciously.

          As for traditional definitions, unless you have a secular rational explanation for maintaining a “tradition” it is a meaningless term unworthy of being maintained. Especially when tradition is in opposition to civil liberties. As an aside, traditional Biblical views of marriage treat it as a commercial transaction, sometimes with multiple concurrent wives.

          I suspect your notions of what gays think about marriage equality is pulled out of your posterior, or just wishful thinking on your part.

    • CarrotCakeMan

      Yes, it’s sad to see the “Gay Obsessed Party” pandering to the anti-gays and telling the 73% of Americans who support ENDA that the “Gay Obsessed Party” isn’t interested in the Will of the People and doesn’t support the United States Constitution and its guarantee of Equal Protection Under the Law.

      • Perhaps Carrot might ask himself why the majority of state legislatures, attuned to their constituents, have not sent up gay “marriage” bills to their governors for signature.
        As for “obsession,” he might ask himself why he places sexual orientation at the top of his “to do” list.

    • They were pandering to special interest groups when they chose to fight ENDA to begin with.

      Do you think the bigoted religious right represents the will of the people as a whole? Hell no. They just are loud and well funded enough for conservative politicians to consider pandering to.

      From the article:
      “73 percent of Americans “favor employment laws that would protect gay and lesbian people from employment discrimination.” This included significant majorities of every major religious group, both political parties and political independents.”

      The will of the people seems to fall clearly on the side of ENDA.

      • Aside from national politics at the White House and Senate level, Larry, you might take a look at the electoral results over the past few years in the “several” states. It isn’t the liberals who are winning.

        Nor can you demonstrate that conservatives want discrimination in the secular workplace as a general policy. But you would, of course, deny people of faith to discriminate where the issue fundamentally affects theri business. That’s because you’re basically anti-established religion in the first place. But you are not biased, are you?

        • “Aside from national politics at the White House and Senate level…”

          Aside from that incident, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?

          You may not be noticing but at the judicial level and on local levels, the opinion is clearly going on the side against discrimination of gays under the color of law. Especially when the public is getting a view on a national level of how violent, ridiculous and bigoted the rhetoric against gays has become as of late.

          “Nor can you demonstrate that conservatives want discrimination in the secular workplace as a general policy. ”

          Maybe you missed the article, but THEY ALREADY DO. John Boehmer’s statement is a perfect example of trying to do that. He made up a BS excuse why such discrimination should not be taken seriously in a workplace.

          We have people pretending that there is such a thing as a corporate faith as a way to justify such discrimination and to weasel out of obligations under Obamacare. Companies do not have a right of free exercise of religion, people do.

          Fact of the matter is several states which banned gay marriage legislatively are revisiting the issue. Polls are clearly turning against people like yourself. Anti-gay screeds have made zero headway in the courts (because their arguments are uniformly bad, illogical and appeal to bigotry in general)

          History is not on your side here. Histronics are.

          • Duane Lamers

            “Especially when the public is getting a view on a national level of how violent, ridiculous and bigoted the rhetoric against gays has become as of late.” – Larry What was that you were saying about histrionics? I suspect that you are saying that opponents of gay “marriage” are violent, ridiculous and bigoted. That’s a charge that doesn’t hold up except among people who’ve redefined those words, as they’ve redefined marriage. What you are really saying is that you have a right to histrionics but people of differing opinions do not. Yes, the mark of a true liberal as liberalism has come to mean in recent decades. I’ll remind you that the Soviets gave new definitions to “freedom,” and the people finally disposed of those notions.

            People are not pretending that there’s a “corporate faith.” They are stating that any individual has a right to act according to the dictates of his faith and that people have the right to seek and maintain employment with an employer who shares the same beliefs. If everyone within the company is an individual, then collectively they have the right to exercise that same common religion.

            If you think opponents of gay “marriage” dislike gays in every respect, you are wrong. If you think that, in general, the same opponents favor discrimination, you are wrong.

          • ” I suspect that you are saying that opponents of gay “marriage” are violent, ridiculous and bigoted.”

            Was I that subtle?

            Its a charge that holds up well when you listen to the arguments used, the actions they propose and the ones they are successful in implementing. It is bigotry to attack the ability of people to live in dignity based on what they are. No redefinition here, except if you are claiming I am a bigot because I don’t politely accept your excuses for invidious discrimination. That is definitely a redefinition.

            Whereas you are callous enough to call the issue a difference of opinion, many others see it as trying to live their lives without being treated as less than human. I am fully intolerant of people who look for excuses to attack civil liberties. I feel no need to respect such views. They have no value.

            I don’t respect opponents of marriage equality because they don’t have arguments worthy of respect. None of it is remotely logical, rational or honest. I have yet to see one which was.

            As for corporate faith, what you are saying is that workplace discrimination is always OK if it is wrapped up in the perpetrator’s religious faith. What a load of crap!

            Unless you are a church, the religious beliefs of an employer or employees are always immaterial to a given position. A company is a person in a legal sense for business purposes. It does not take on the faith of its individual members. An employer can not dictate the “religious nature” of a company any more than it can force its employees to sit for Mass.

            Bigoted discriminatory behavior does not get a pass because you think the Bible can justify it. Least of all when such actions are illegal in of themselves.

            Marriage equality opponents may not hate gays per se (or at least not in public), they just support measures which attack them, treat them as non-people and disrupt their actions in forming families. It may not hateful, but it is certainly harmful and pernicious. Might as well be saying it is hateful. The effects are no different.

      • Duane Lamers

        Larry, I wouldn’t dispute that a vast majority of people disapprove of employment discrimination. That is not the issue relative to ENDA, however. A careful reading of the bill brings to light some provisions within it that are problematical for religious denominations and their adherents. “The devil is in the details,” as the saying goes. Consider what has been found in Obamacare despite the initial “good intentions” (or so we were told) that everyone deserves healthcare.

        • Larry, You wrote: “It is bigotry to attack the ability of people to live in dignity based on what they are.” What has this to do with marriage, which by tradition is a union of two people of opposite genders? Nor am I offering any “excuses” for anything. I”m only holding you to a defense of a redefinition of marriage and expecting you to begin with your own first principles to challenge the first principles, the definition, of marriage itself.

          “Trying to live their lives without being treated less than human.” you write. That’s merely another way of saying that an individual who is discriminated in any way is being treated as “less than human.” Try applying that to skill standards required in any occupation or profession. This, Larry, is histrionics.

          You go on to say you don’t respect opponents of marriage equality, but you have yet to defend your desire to abandon the concept of marriage as it has always been known. I suspect that you cannot do so, that you are operating entirely on the emotional level, that of desiring wants to be fulfilled.

          You say that only a church has the right to act on religious beliefs. Sorry, but you ignore the Constitution itself on this one. To begin with “church” is an abstraction unless you are referring to the physical structure itself. A church is comprised of individuals, and if these individuals are American citizens, they are protected by the Constitution.

          Lastly, to repeat myself as you do, you consider any opposition to gay marriage to be bigotry and discrimination. You confuse yourself–and only yourself–when you use the term “marriage equality” to hide what you’re really attempting to do–namey, redefine the concept. “Marriage equality” means all marriages are equal. No argument there. You’ve redefined the concept, though, and think you can hind behind the two words. No, you cannot. Nor can people call abortion-on-a-whim a “women’s health issue” when the only health being jeopardized is that of the fetus.

          Now, if you wish to continue the charade you call “reasoning,” no one can stop you. It doesn’t pass muster, however, at the table of rational discussion. If you want to say that cohabiting couples should have the right to continue cohabiting, I won’t argue that.

          Just remember that society depends for its continued being on the creation of new life and that both creators have responsibilities toward their offspring. Societies have always chosen to protect this foundational element.

          Above all, abandon that notion you seem to have that anyone opposing “gay marriage” is bigoted and otherwise hostile. Stop assuming that you and yours have the right to redefine language and to remake society according to your own limited vision of it.

          • “Above all, abandon that notion you seem to have that anyone opposing “gay marriage” is bigoted and otherwise hostile. ”

            You have done nothing to show otherwise. All you did was avoid any kind of substantive response.

            Your argument is so circular, full of special pleading, silly jibes and outright fiction that it is impossible to consider it being done in good faith.

            There are no rational, secular arguments used in opposing marriage equality. You certainly won’t provide one. Bigotry is the only choice left to explain the vehemence of the position.

        • You are a liar. Pretending that discriminatory behavior is somehow protected as religious freedom is to completely misrepresent the limits of “Free Exercise of religion”. Your right to religious expression ends at the point it harms others.

          Its telling you are using the same exact arguments southern baptists used to oppose the Civil Rights Act in the early 60′s. That their “god given” right to treat people of color as inferior is being infringed upon by the law.

          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  1. CarrotCakeMan

    This article gives way to much column space to the anti-gays and their same old anti-gay propaganda. All Americans are familiar with the lies anti-gays are shrieking again and again at the tops of their lungs.

    • Of course, Carrot! You get to decide what news is fit to print. Perhaps you can find a job with Pravda. In the past four decades or so we have seen a marvelous transformation in the meaning of words. Liberals today are about as illiberal as people can get, willing to snuff out all opposition to their own beliefs.. They are also hidebound to social policies that have proven for over these same decades that they are unworkable. Who’s “conservative” now, Carrot?

      By the way, give us just a couple examples of the “lies” promoted by that group you call “anti-gay” and tell us what sort of person is anti-gay.

  2. It sounds like the problem is evolving towards a natural solution if what you report is true, “Younger conservative Christians have no problem (with their LGBT peers).”. I would add most older conservative would not discriminate on a sexual basis in today’s business world. We judged on performance, not sex. On these tough social issue I see Evolution Vs Revolution as a more palatable solution for society and that is assuming that problem even really exists. I think everyone today is against discrimination…liberals and conservatives, young and old. I am against more mandates and laws for businesses, PERIOD!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.