Yesterday several major LGBT groups including the ACLU, the NGLTF, and Lambda Legal announced that they no longer support ENDA due to its broad religious exemptions. Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner has published a lengthy look at the ENDA battle and concludes his analysis with three reasons for the sudden change of heart. The final reason:
The White House is preparing an executive order for Obama to sign that will bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — and LGBT groups want to make it perfectly clear to Obama and others that ENDA’s religious exemption would be unacceptable to them. With last week’s letter signed by Rick Warren and others and draft letter circulated by Jim Wallis seeking a strong religious exemption — similar to the ENDA religious exemption — in the executive order, LGBT groups and allies are trying to move quickly and forcefully to push the counterargument.
On Tuesday, two letters were sent to the White House — one from the heads of statewide LGBT groups and another from progressive religious leaders — pressing the White House to include no more broad of a religious exemption in the executive order than that given with regard to other classes in other anti-discrimination measures. For the organizations withdrawing their support from ENDA, they are talking about the religious exemption contained in ENDA — but they also are sending a message that such an exemption would clearly not be acceptable to them in the executive order.
NOTE: The Human Rights Campaign appears to be standing alone behind ENDA. Yesterday they issued a brief statement: “HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people.”