I recently wrote to Rep. Steve Daines urging him to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that provides basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Daines replied to me, “I am particularly concerned that the exemptions provided within ENDA for churches, businesses or religious organizations are insufficient and could force some employers or organizations to violate their moral or religious beliefs. Due to these concerns, I cannot support ENDA.”
These concerns are unfounded. ENDA includes broad religious exemptions consistent with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Churches, religious organizations, small businesses and the military are exempt from ENDA. Does Daines think that the exemptions defined in Title VII are “insufficient?” Is he concerned that under the Civil Rights Act businesses are “forced” to not discriminate against their employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin? Does he support a repeal of the Civil Rights Act because it might “violate” an employer’s religious beliefs?
By standing in opposition to ENDA, Daines supports the rights of employers to cruelly discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — to refuse to hire them and to fire and to deny promotions to individuals solely due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. I hope Daines will recognize that employees should be judged on their ability to do their job, not because of who they are or who they love.