It's Time to End ENDA
It's no secret that the true purpose of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is to "help bring marriage equality closer." ENDA would elevate sexual orientation to a protected status under workplace nondiscrimination laws. Indeed, laws have already been used to achieve legal recognition for homosexual unions in several states, even when supposed safeguards are included in the legislation. Gay rights advocates are quite open in declaring the passing of ENDA as an important incremental step in achieving a redefinition of marriage. Further, they argue that small changes will bring about greater public acceptance as a gradual adjustment period will make same-sex "marriage" more acceptable. In short, ENDA is a major milestone along the road toward the ultimate goal of legalizing same-sex "marriage." Worse, as the Heritage Foundation's Ryan T. Anderson points out, it threatens fundamental civil liberties.
ENDA -- a bill that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least fifteen employees -- has been around since 1994 with little hope of passing until the Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006. After dropping the requirement in the bill that persons claiming to be transgendered be treated as a protected class the bill passed the House, but it never passed the Senate. This year, every Democrat in the Senate has signed onto the bill, along with a few Republicans. House GOP leaders report they will not support the bill, but Democrats threaten the same kind of media firestorm they ignited over the Violence Against Women Act.
In addition, more than seventy-five Fortune 500 companies, including two huge ones, Nike and Sara Lee, have endorsed ENDA. Such corporate support is ironic in that ENDA, in essence, is an infringement on "their right to set their own standards for employment... most large secular employers do not make a practice of inquiring into the sexual practices of their employees in the first place."
Currently, twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legislative policies that are aligned in some aspect with ENDA. Five other states have mandated prohibitions about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine other states have such rulings for public employees only. Fifteen states have laws that "have been interpreted to protect transgender persons." More than 300 private companies/corporations have embraced "rights and benefits" measures for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) employees. Currently more than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination protections covering sexual orientation. Only a third have the same protections regarding gender identity. Gay activists are pushing relentlessly, with persistent force, on every front to achieve their goals.
Any decent person opposes unjust discrimination, but there is "no evidence that homosexuals have unusual difficulty in finding employment, nor that such laws on the local or state levels have improved their economic situation." Robert Knight calls ENDA a "gay quota bill" and describes it as "profoundly dangerous" because it turns "private sin into a public right and brings the force of government against morality itself." Knight adds that ENDA "falsely equates a changeable condition (sexual desire) with race and ethnicity. Worse, it turns traditional values into a form of bigotry punishable under the law."
Probably the most contentious aspect of this very controversial bill is the special protection that it provides not just for sexual orientation, but also for "gender identity" which means that employers would have to hire transgendered persons, whether transvestites (cross dressers) or transsexuals and would have to put up with whatever attire or behavior the employee chooses for the workplace. ENDA would ensure the "right" for the transgendered activists to engage in dress and behavior that is the opposite to their sex as a man or a woman, including their right to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers of the opposite sex.
We are already seeing a push for unisex bathrooms and the so-called "right" of transgendered persons to use the restroom of their choice -- even in the public schools. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a new federal policy in 2010 that added sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination wording to their employment policies for "potential employees," a term that is left vague and nonspecific so that anyone can have access to any restroom. Such policies are already in effect in a dozen states, allowing for the potential for predators and pedophiles, an explosive problem just waiting to happen.
Again, opposition to ENDA -- legislation that even its supporters claim is a steppingstone to ending traditional marriage -- is not about approving discrimination or restricting anyone's human rights or freedoms. Instead, it is in opposition to creating special classes of rights for a small minority and establishing public policies that undermine human rights and religious freedom of the vast majority. In the case of ENDA, opposition is also about the effect it would have in undermining the institution of marriage.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is an author, commentator and speaker on contemporary social, family, and economic issues. Her book, Marriage Matters, discusses the public policy aspects of marriage. She is a spokesperson for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.