ACLU Retracts ENDA Support

This afternoon the ACLU joined a growing list of civil rights group that have dropped their support for ENDA due to its gaping religious exemptions. Via press release:

The provision in the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that allows religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a source of significant concern to us. Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable. It would prevent ENDA from providing protections that LGBT people desperately need and would make very bad law with potential further negative effects. Therefore, we are announcing our withdrawal of support for the current version of ENDA. For decades, our organizations have challenged anti-LGBT workplace discrimination in the courts and worked for the passage of inclusive non-discrimination laws at the local, state, and federal level. We do this work because of the devastating toll workplace discrimination has had, and continues to have, on the lives of LGBT people. It is unacceptable that in the year 2014, men and women are forced to hide who they are or whom they love when they go to work.

Co-signing the above statement are Lambda Legal, GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center. Earlier today the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force also dropped their support for ENDA.

Years and years of hard-fought battles resulted in the Senate passage of ENDA in November 2013 by a vote of 64-32. I exulted in that moment, truly. But no hope of the bill progressing in the GOP-dominated House coupled with the Hobby Lobby ruling means that the entire LGBT rights movement must now focus on having LGBT Americans included under the broad protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Some are loudly arguing that LGBT opposition to ENDA is yet another case of the perfect being the enemy of the good, a cry that was also made when many of us objected after transgender protections were stripped from the 2007 version of ENDA. But as some of you have pointed out, exempting the very people most likely to discriminate from an anti-discrimination bill just does not make sense in the post-Hobby Lobby world.

It’s time for all of us to adopt and adapt the slogan of Idaho’s activists, who demand that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” be added to their state’s human rights act.

“Add The Four Words” – to the Civil Rights Act Of 1964.