The U.S. Senate’s ENDA hearings are underway this morning! Some homos (and no transgender folks?) are testifying before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions about why LGBTs deserve (or don’t?) protections in the workplace. You can watch the action live right here. And we’ll try to get you our favorite clip so far, of National Religious Broadcasters’s general counsel Craig Parshall (pictured) arguing that ENDA will force religious institutions — even Christian book publishers — to hire homos!
Attending the hearing: Sens. Harkin (IA), Merkley (OR), Fraken (MN), and Casey (PA). Here’s “civil rights czar” (and assistant AG at the DoJ) Thomas Perez’s testimony in part:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other
bedrock civil rights laws recognize that protecting valued members of our workforce from
discrimination should not be left to a patchwork of state and local laws that leaves large gaps in
coverage. Discrimination in my home state of Maryland is just as wrong as discrimination in
Montana. As with those laws, federal legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity will help eradicate workplace discrimination that should be
neither tolerated nor condoned.
Perhaps Perez’s most significant contribution, though, is his countering the b.s. put forth by folks like Parshall:
As you know, ENDA covers cases of intentional discrimination and explicitly precludes
disparate-impact claims, does not permit the use of quotas or other forms of preferential
treatment. Moreover, ENDA does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees,
tax-exempt private membership clubs, or religious organizations. Indeed, ENDA contains a
broad exemption for religious organizations and states that it does not apply to any corporation,
association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination
provisions of Title VII. In addition, nothing in ENDA infringes on an individual’s ability to
practice his or her faith, to hold and adhere to religious beliefs, or to exercise First Amendment
rights of free speech on these or other issues. In addition, ENDA does not apply to the
relationship between the federal government and members of the armed forces, and does not
affect federal, state, or local rules providing veterans’ preferences in employment decisions.
Lastly, there is nothing to suggest that ENDA will burden employers, unleash a flood of
complaints that would threaten to overwhelm the EEOC or the Department of Justice, or clog the
federal courts. On the contrary, the experience of states and local governments with sexual
orientation and gender identity discrimination statutes for decades demonstrates that complaints
under these statutes make up a relatively small portion of total employment discrimination
complaints. Moreover, the jurisdictions that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation and gender identity have been able to implement and enforce these laws in an entirely
workable manner. We fully expect that the same would hold true at the federal level.