The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.
GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.
The groups have cited a religious exemption provision that was added to ENDA at the time it passed in the Senate last year as the main reason for the opposition to the pending federal legislation. The groups, including GLAA, say the exemption clause would allow an unacceptably large number of religious organizations to continue to discriminate or fire LGBT employees working in non-religious positions.
“In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” GLAA President Rick Rosendall said in a statement.
He was referring to the landmark 1964 civil rights law that bans discrimination in employment and other areas based on race, religion and ethnicity. The law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity and thus excludes LGBT people from being protected from discrimination.
Various forms of ENDA have been pending in Congress for more than 40 years. Leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have refused to take a vote on the version of ENDA passed by the Senate. Most political observers don’t believe any version of ENDA could pass in the House as long as the current GOP leadership remains in control of the body.