For Immediate Release
Progressive Youth Organizations Join GetEQUAL in Opposing Broad Religious Exemptions in LGBT Workplace Bill
WASHINGTON - Yesterday evening, the Senate voted to move forward with debate over a much-anticipated bill that would make it illegal to discriminate in the workplace based on an employee or potential employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last received a vote in the Senate nearly 20 years ago, and has languished in Congress since then -- the bill’s passage has been much anticipated by those advocating for legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.
However, the bill falls short in protecting every LGBT worker against discrimination. The current religious exemptions in ENDA can potentially allow religiously-affiliated institutions -- from schools to hospitals -- to have the legal permission to discriminate against LGBT workers. Even worse, it cements discrimination into law, and sets a backward precedent that affirms the second-class citizenship of LGBT Americans.
On Wednesday, GetEQUAL will be joined by leaders from progressive youth organizations to deliver a letter to Senators, opposing the unnecessarily broad religious exemption in ENDA. Co-signers of that letter include the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), United We DREAM and the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, United States Student Association, and Advocates for Youth.
Who: GetEQUAL, joined by leaders from a variety of progressive youth-serving organizations
What: Delivery of letter in opposition to the broad religious exemptions in ENDA
Where: Outside Russell Senate Building, at corner of C St NE & Delaware Ave NE
When: Wednesday, Nov 6, at 10 AM Eastern
Why: Broad religious exemptions in ENDA leave some LGBT workers unprotected in the workplace, and making those religious exemptions even more broad via amendment would severely limit the impact of the bill
"We're so proud to be joining our voices with these friends and allies to call on the U.S. Senate to oppose the broad religious exemptions in ENDA," said Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL’s co-director. "My seminary classmates taught me about social justice -- they didn't run from it, and they certainly wouldn't want to be exempted from it. It's time to end LGBT workplace discrimination once and for all, and to close the religious liberty loopholes that the radical right is trying to impose."
The current unnecessarily broad religious exemptions will leave many workers unprotected against religiously-motivated bias, as the bill could exempt non-religious personnel such as teachers or nurses from these vital workplace protections.
"We stand firm that employment decisions should be based upon a person's qualifications and job performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Gregory Cendana, APALA’s Executive Director. "APALA is glad to join GetEQUAL in calling for an end to LGBT workplace discrimination and to raise awareness about the negative impacts the current religious exemptions in ENDA can have in our communities. All LGBT Americans deserve to be protected in the workplace, even if they work at a religious institution."