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USA Poll: Large Group of Marriage Equality Supporters Also Approve of Religious Exemptions

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

titleA new poll from Associated Press-GfK shows that the rise in marriage equality support comes with some caveats.

ABC News reports:

While finding that Americans narrowly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, a new Associated Press-GfK poll also shows most believe wedding-related businesses should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples for religious reasons. Roughly half the country also thinks local officials and judges with religious objections ought to be exempt from any requirement that they issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, according to the poll…

About a quarter of those who favor legal same-sex marriage also favor religious exemptions for those who issue marriage licenses, the poll finds, and a third say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service.

I want someone to ask these people if they would still feel the same if the word “black” was substituted for the word “gay”. If so, although I’d find their position morally repugnant, at least it would be intellectually consistent. If not, the question would point out the lingering homophobia that still haunts our movement.

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National LGBT Groups Drop ENDA Support

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

New Human Rights Campaign President Ready to Wade Into More Marriage Equality FightsIt started yesterday with an announcement from NGLTF.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Six of the nation’s leading LGBT rights advocacy groups on Tuesday announced they were withdrawing their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), fearing that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill could compel private companies to cite objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week.

The withdrawal was first announced earlier Tuesday by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and by mid-afternoon the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Transgender Law Center issued a joint statement that they would no longer support the current version of ENDA because it provides “religiously affiliated organizations … a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.”

The issue has been simmering for awhile, but the Hobby Lobby decision last week brought it to a boil.

Towleroad.com reports from the NGLTF press release:

“The morning after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, we all woke up in a changed and intensified landscape of broad religious exemptions being used as an excuse to discriminate. We are deeply concerned that ENDA’s broad exemption will be used as a similar license to discriminate across the country. We are concerned that these types of legal loopholes could negatively impact other issues affecting LGBT people and their families including marriage, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and access to other reproductive health services. As one of the lead advocates on this bill for 20 years, we do not take this move lightly but we do take it unequivocally – we now oppose this version of ENDA because of its too-broad religious exemption. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law.”

The lone hold-out? HRC.

Pink News reports:

Despite the shift, the Human Rights Campaign – which tackled anti-gay discrimination – has maintained support for the bill. Human Rights Campaign Vice President Fred Sainz said yesterday: “HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people.”

Is HRC hanging on because it has spent years and years failing to get this thing passed, and now fears seeing the whole thing go down in flames?

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USA: A Few ENDA Updates

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Washington DC LegislatureNow that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has passed the US Senate, we have a few follow-ups for you.

First off, Mormons helped pass ENDA in the Senate.

The New York Times reports:

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who at 79 is one of the Senate’s longest-serving members, became the first Republican to signal he would reverse his opposition as the bill faced a crucial vote in committee. He voted against a similar bill the last time it came up in the Senate — 17 years ago — but changed his mind earlier this year after Gordon H. Smith, a fellow Mormon and former Republican senator, convinced him there was nothing in it that violated church doctrine. “The church does want to be helpful where we can be, without violating our own conscience,” Mr. Smith, a former bishop, said in an interview. And as the bill approached a vital vote earlier this week, Senator Dean Heller, the Nevada Republican who has taught Sunday school at his Mormon church, provided the crucial 60th vote to break a filibuster. In the end, all but two of the Senate’s seven Mormons voted yes.

This newfound support for LGBT rights pointedly does NOT extend to marriage equality.

Openly gay House representative Jared Polis believes the bill would pass the House, if Boehner would bring it to a vote.

The Washington Blade reports:

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, predicted during an interview with the Washington Blade Friday that ENDA would pass the House and said the next step for the bill is to pressure Republican leaders to bring it to the floor. He added that a number of undeclared Republicans have privately told him they’d vote “yes.” “The next step is, of course, to continue to apply pressure to the speaker and the majority leader to bring it to the floor, where I’m confident it has enough support to pass,” Polis said. “The best way to do that is to demonstrate it has that support and continuing to add co-sponsors, particularly more Republican co-sponsors to ENDA so that we can have a stronger case to make that we need to bring it before the House to the floor for a vote.”

President Obama is thinking along similar lines.

On Top Magazine reports:

“Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago.”
“Now it’s up to the House of Representatives,” the president added. “This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.”

What do you guys think about the current version of ENDA? On the one hand, it is transgender inclusive, and would offer protections not available before to LGBT workers. OTOH, its religious exemptions are overly broad, and could lead to problems down the road. Where do you stand?

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USA: ENDA Passes the US Senate 64-32

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingIt’s official – the Employment Non Discrimination Act now goes to the House.

SDGLN reports:

The U.S. Senate today voted, 64-32, with bi-partisan support, to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The law would ban job discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the bill on July 10, 2013, with Republicans Orrin Hatch, Mark Kirk and Lisa Murkowski supporting the proposed law. This is the first time ENDA has been voted on in the Senate in 17 years and the first time a trans-inclusive ENDA has received a vote.

Any chance Boehner allows a vote?

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USA: The Employment Non Discrimination Act Cleared for Final Vote in senate

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

CongressThis just in from the US Senate.

The Advocate reports:

In a procedural vote intended to conclude debate, the Senate voted in favor of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire, or declining to promote a worker simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A bipartisan coalition of 64 senators voted to move ENDA forward, clearing the way for an affirmative final vote, expected to occur around 1:45 p.m. Eastern today. 33 Republican Senators cast “no” votes against the bill.

An amendment to further broaden religious protections was also shot down:

As debate came to a close Thursday afternoon, senators voted down an amendment from Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey that would have expanded the number of groups and individuals who could discriminate against LGBT people based on religious beliefs failed by a vote of 43-55. Toomey, who voted to invoke cloture and begin debate on the bill earlier this week, said he believed his amendment made an effort to relieve tension between “two vitally important American values”: equality and religious liberty. In explaining how his amendment would affect the scope of the law, Toomey noted that some religious-run organizations take part in secular activities but should still be exempted from adhering to ENDA’s nondiscrimination orders.

Final vote due shortly.

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USA: Final Vote on The Employment Non-Discrimination Act In the Senate Today

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

US CongressThe U.S. Senate is due to vote on ENDA today.

The Hill reports:

On Thursday, the Senate will vote on a GOP amendment to expand religious exemptions under the bill before voting to end debate on the measure. If Democrats get 60 votes to end debate, the Senate will then vote on final passage at 1:45 p.m. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), S. 815, would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Earlier this week seven Republicans joined Democrats in a vote to begin debate on the bill, making final passage all but certain.

Over at Towleroad, Ari Ezra Waldman looks at the danger of the overly broad religious exemptions in the bill:

Soon, there will be a federal lawsuit challenging a religiously-affiliated organization discriminating against an LGBT person or couple in the provision of services. At that point, a judge will go back and try to determine the balance between equality and religious freedom. He or she will write an opinion discussing this country’s long history of treating people equally. But the judge will eventually be confronted by the uncontroverted fact that LGBT equality laws have broader religious exemptions than equality laws focusing on other groups. To any judge that will mean that society (via Congress) has made a decision that religious freedom enjoys a privileged position relative to gay equality. And that will mean that religious freedom will likely beat out LGBT equality when the two rights come in conflict.

The judge will also look at what lawyers call “legislative history,” or evidence of Congress’s meaning and intentions when it passed a law. Democrats’ failure to oppose the broad religious exemption in ENDA will allow a judge to conclude that the only reason ENDA passed was because of the religious exemptions and that liberals seemed on board with the religious exemptions. They called it “unnecessary,” they didn’t oppose it. So, when a close call comes before a judge — and most cases that get to court are close calls rather than obviously answered by settled law — any court could interpret ENDA’s legislative history as endorsing religious liberty over LGBT equality.

So maybe Boehner is doing us a favor by blocking a vote on the bill in the House? Or should we give away whatever we have to in order to get something, anything passed?

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USA, Hawaii: Lawmakers, Religious Leaders Discuss Marriage Equality Bill Exemptions

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Hawaiian ChurchAs the special session to pass the marriage equality bill nears, religious leaders are hedging their bets.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Religious leaders in Hawaii have been meeting with state lawmakers about a religious exemption in pending gay marriage legislation, balancing their opposition to the bill with trying to protect their interests as much as possible should it pass. Leaders trying to strengthen the exemptions still mainly want to persuade the Legislature to vote down the measure, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser… The current draft exempts religious organizations and related facilities from hosting gay marriages if the facilities aren’t used primarily as for-profit businesses.

Do you support exemptions for religious groups, and if so, how far should they go? If not, why?

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USA, Hawaii: Churches, Lawmaker Meet to Discuss Marriage Equality Bill Exemptions

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

HawaiiIn a sign that Hawaii religious leaders are taking the proposed marriage equality bill seriously, a group of churches met with lawmakers to request religious exemptions in the law.

Edge Boston reports:

Religious leaders in Hawaii have been meeting with state lawmakers about a religious exemption in pending gay marriage legislation, balancing opposition to the bill with trying to protect their interests as much as possible should it pass.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday (http://bit.ly/16Kd6bA ) that leaders trying to strengthen the exemptions still mainly want to persuade the Legislature to vote down the bill.

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Rhode Island, USA: Marriage Equality Could Be Derailed By Senate Democratic Leadership

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Rhode Island Senate president Teresa Paiva WeedWe’ve come to expect this from Republicans, who throw up roadblocks to any and all progress by the LGBT community. But it’s rather sickening to see it from fellow democrats, especially now when the party has clearly thrown its weight behind marriage equality, and especially in as liberal a state as Rhode Island.

LGBTQ Nation is reporting that Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed is now calling for religious exemptions as a qualification for passing the Rhode Island marriage equality bill:

Teresa Paiva Weed said she remains opposed to the bill and has heard that the sticking point for many senators is on how broad of a religious exemption is included in the only New England state that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.

Weed also said she has no intention to hurry the bill through the Senate:

The Newport Democrat said she doesn’t want to fast-track the legislation and promised a “full and fair debate” on what she said is a personal and emotional issue for many lawmakers.

How do people like this end up in power in the Democratic Party in places like Rhode Island?

Illinois, USA: Bishop Paprocki Says Catholic Church Will Oppose Marriage Equality Bill Even With Religious Exemptions

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Illinois Catholic Bishop Thomas PaprockiThe hierarchy of the Catholic Church is advancing almost-daily attacks on marriage equality, particularly in states like Illinois and Rhode Island where legislation is imminent. On Monday, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield, Illinois diocese demonstrated just how uncompromising the Church’s position is. In an interview on Catholic radio captured by Jeremy Hooper, Paprocki explained that it doesn’t matter how many religious exemptions are built into a same-sex marriage bill — the Church will still oppose it:

PAPROCKI: I don’t want to give the impression that if we get enough exemptions into the law or enough protections into the law that would protect religious freedom that we would be okay with same-sex marriage. That’s not what we’re saying here. What I’m saying is, I don’t believe that there is any provision that they could make that is going to allow for same-sex marriage to become the law without having some implication or some adverse fallout.

Authored By Zack Ford – See the Full Story at Think Progress

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