CWA: First Amendment Trampled With ENDA Passage

CWA Release, November 8, 2007

[Call your senators at 202-224-3121 or go to; call President Bush and urge him to veto ENDA if it passes at 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111, or]

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed — largely along party lines —  H.R. 3685, the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), by a vote of 235–184. [Click HERE for the Roll Call and HERE to see which Congressmen voted against their party’s majority.] 

Matt Barber, CWA’s Policy Director for Cultural Issues, said, “By passing this Orwellian piece of legislation, the Democrat-controlled House has displayed exceptional arrogance.  Congress apparently believes it has carte blanche authority to nullify any constitutional provision which it finds bothersome.  In this case, they’ve drawn a black line through the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.”  

ENDA contains an extremely weak religious exemption which might partially protect some religious organizations but would leave many others — such as Bible bookstores and many Christian schools — entirely unprotected.  It would additionally crush individual business owners’ guaranteed First Amendment rights.   

“For any religious exemption to pass constitutional muster,” said Barber, “it would have to apply to the individual business owner.  The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion.  This applies to all individual citizens, not just to a church, religious organization or corporation.  ENDA would unconstitutionally force business owners to abandon their faith at the workplace door and adopt a view of sexual morality which runs directly counter to central tenets of every major world religion and thousands of years of history.

“Our founding fathers happened to believe that the free exercise of religion was pretty important.  In fact, they founded a nation on that very principle and included religious protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  What Congress has done with ENDA turns our Founders’ vision on its head.  It’s hard to imagine the Framers agreeing that newfangled ‘gay rights,’ based on changeable sexual behaviors, should trump the First Amendment.

“This bill represents the goose that laid the golden egg for homosexual activist attorneys and, if signed into law, will open the floodgates for lawsuits against employers who wish to live out their faith,” concluded Barber.     

Shari Rendall, CWA’s Director of Legislation and Public Policy, said, “Senator Ted Kennedy is expected to introduce a Senate version of ENDA soon.  We are asking people to begin contacting their Senators now to respectfully ask them to vote ‘no’ on ENDA when it comes up for a vote in the Senate.  President Bush has signaled that he would likely veto this bill should it cross his desk, but we need to make sure there are enough votes to sustain that veto in the Senate, as we did in the House, should ENDA ultimately cross his desk.”   

Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.

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