The Special Rights Battleground of ENDA and Immigration Reform

Seems to be exactly where the Religious Right is digging in these days.

By Cathy Kristofferson, May 02, 2013.

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Two legislative initiatives now underway on Capital Hill greatly underscore the fact that it is the Religious Right who is seeking ‘special rights’ not the LGBT community, as we are so often accused.  The Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill that was put forward by the bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ completely left out LGBT equality.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) introduced last Thursday provides for widespread indiscriminate discrimination on the part of all religiously affiliated employers.

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Even before the immigration reform bill was introduced, two of the Republican Senators, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said they would oppose any same-sex provisions.  Another of the Republican Senators, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently said that including the ability for same gender partners to sponsor their spouses for residency “will virtually guarantee that it won’t pass.”

Taking the challenge today, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations pretty much dared the Evangelical community to in fact withdraw their support for Immigration Reform.  And The Daily Beast called that threat from the Right – which would surely lose all support from the Hispanic community for Republicans for the foreseeable future – suicidal.  And all for the ‘special right’ to deny 28,500 LGBT couples an equal right that is granted to every single heterosexual binational couple.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill mark-ups will begin May 9th.  We hear that something similar to the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) will be proposed as an amendment, but we also hear many are skeptical about it still being there in the final version after it  leaves the Judiciary Committee.

Politics_0327_SameSexNottingham_480x360So for Immigration Reform the Right will likely get their ‘special right’ to select one category of people and to exclude them completely.  All hopes for LGBT bi-national couples will then rest with the Supreme Court, when they decide the Edith Windsor DOMA case later in June .  (Which may be a good thing anyway since some kind of permanent partner status just for queers who live where they can’t get married smacks of special rights itself.)

For ENDA, as we reported here on OBLOGDEE earlier this week, the religious exemption contained in the bill as introduced is flat out unacceptable.  It is the same religious exemption that is in the 1964 Civil Rights Act which was intended to allow religious employers to prefer employees of their own faith for religious roles now being applied to any position to members of a different protected class.  It is appropriate to allow a Catholic Church to select a Catholic priest not a Jewish rabbi or a Muslim imam as their religious leader.  That’s a world away from a Presbyterian Hospital not hiring the janitor when they discover he’s gay or a Catholic High School from firing a coach when she’s outed in her mother’s obituary. That’s one protected class trumping another. And that hasn’t happened before.

OK41stSqAgreeing with us here at OBLOGDEE, the LA Times today said “A blanket exemption for religious employers shouldn’t be the price paid” but that will be tPostshe price paid to grant the Religious Right their ‘special right’ of indiscriminate discrimination.  If passed as it stands the “First Amendment Supremacy Clause”…

“Under no circumstance shall sexual orientation regulations supercede the First Amendment rights of individuals, churches and religious organizations to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”

…will effectively be granted and religious bigotry will continue to trump LGBT employees’ equal rights to workplace protections in the vaguely and broadly defined world of “religiously affiliated employers”.

When the Religious Right seeks to deny us equality, our rights are taken away or not granted.  When the LGBT community seeks to gain equality, we are only looking to receive that which we have been denied.  So who’s really looking for ‘special’ rights?

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3 thoughts on “The Special Rights Battleground of ENDA and Immigration Reform

  1. “Even before the immigration reform bill was introduced, two of the Republican Senators, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said they would oppose any same-sex provisions.”

    Wow– two entitled, old, GOP, white men are against equality…shocking 😛

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