As the Senate gets ready to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), it’s been amazing to listen to the legislation’s critics – or more accurately, listen to the silence of the legislation’s critics.
In committee, most Senate Republicans voted against ENDA, but not one was willing to say anything bad about it. As the full chamber debated the bill this week, we saw the exact same phenomenon, with Republicans opposed to the measure, but unwilling to say why.
As Sahil Kapur noted, that changed a bit today.
Just one Republican senator publicly voiced opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would make it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity. […]“The legislation before us raises very serious concerns regarding religious freedom. The so-called protections from religious liberty in this bill are vaguely defined and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) said on the floor Thursday. “For example, the religious beliefs of faith-based child care providers and small business owners would be disregarded under this legislation. Faith-based daycare providers could be forced to hire individuals with views contrary to the faith incorporated values of the daycare providers.
This is quite an argument. In Dan Coats’ mind, if you run a small business, and you don’t like gay people, it should be perfectly legal for you to hang a sign in the window that reads, “Help Wanted - Gay People Need Not Apply.” Indeed, from Coats’ perspective, if a small-business owner learns that an employee might be gay, that employer should be able to simply fire the worker without cause.
It all makes sense, according to Coats, under the guise of “religious freedom.”
Also note Coats’ reliance on “daycare providers” – as if he believes employment discrimination against LGBT Americans is more reasonable if a position involves looking after children.
No wonder ENDA opponents have been so reluctant to speak up – they have nothing of real value to offer in the debate.
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