Frankly, it is becoming harder and harder for me, for us, to tolerate our own moral and political inconsistencies by protesting the Hobby Lobby decision, then advocating for the current ENDA with its broad religious exemption, and then insisting that the president not include a broad exemption in the upcoming executive order protecting LGBT people working for federal contractors. How can we demand that a woman have coverage for reproductive healthcare at a company but support a bill that allows a lesbian cafeteria worker in the religiously affiliated hospital next door to be fired from her job?In the last year alone, we have seen a wave of attempted and successful efforts at imposing religious exemptions on issues of reproductive health and LGBT equality on the local, state, and federal level. And it is crystal clear in the week following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision that the momentum is building on religious exemptions. Not 48 hours after the decision, Pastor Rick Warren joined other faith leaders in a letter to the president asking that he include a broad religious exemption in the contractor executive order. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law.
There is a better alternative: federal nondiscrimination legislation that contains a reasonable religious accommodation. LGBT people should have the same protections as those contained in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Legal equality is legal equality.
This version of ENDA passed the Senate but Republicans predictably blocked it from even getting a vote in the House; the Obama administration is currently finalizing an executive order extending ENDA-type protections to employees of federal contractors, and what form of religious exemption that order will include has been at the center of debate. The president, too, should look at the Hobby Lobby decision and realize that the far right’s current plan is to use “religious freedom” to enshrine the right to discriminate in the law.
ORIGINALLY POSTED TO DAILY KOS LABOR ON TUE JUL 08, 2014 AT 10:41 AM PDT.