The U.S. Senate is about to vote on a controversial new law that will penalize employers for refusing to hire workers due to sexual orientation or gender identity, which critics say will pose all kinds of problems in the workplace, not least of which is trampling the religious freedom rights of employers.
On Monday of this week, the Senate voted 61-30 to allow debate to begin on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that will make it illegal to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual … because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Senate is expected to schedule a full vote on the bill by the end of this week.
“Under the guise of equality, ENDA creates special rights for homosexual and transgendered individuals and will forbid employers from considering the consequences of this behavior in the workplace. Employers are already being trampled and crushed by a wide variety of federal, state, and local laws and regulations which constrain the way they run their businesses or organizations,” writes Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum.
“ENDA is particularly concerning because of the ambiguous and broad implications of the bill. It opens employers up to numerous claims of discrimination based on identities that are subjective, self-disclosed, and self-defined unlike race or gender. Employers should not be subject to lawsuits because they are taking into account the behavior of their employees.”
ENDA is also unnecessary. According to the Heritage Foundation, 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit employment decisions based on sexual orientation.
In addition to violating the rights of employers who object to homosexual and transgender behavior for religious reasons, the US Bishops are also vehemently opposed to the bill because it does not include an exemption for those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant’s sexual inclinations.
“ENDA’s vague definition of ‘sexual orientation’ would encompass sexual conduct outside of marriage, thus legally affirming and specially protecting that conduct,” the Bishops stated.
Also problematic is ENDA’s definition of “gender identity” which views “gender” as nothing more than a “social construct or psychosocial reality, which a person may choose at variance from his or her biological sex,” the bishops state.
This provision also fails to account for the privacy interests of others, such as men and women who do not wish to share their restrooms with the opposite sex.
Thus far, the bill appears to have just enough votes to override a filibuster, but even if it does, the law will have a difficult time passing through the U.S. House of Representatives which has a conservative majority who are opposed to this legislation.
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