And now we have official notification to say so, thanks to Politifact.
Recently, Politifact labeled anti-gay claims about ENDA as false. The organization took a close look at the claim because of an email sent out by anti-gay group the Traditional Values Coalition which attacked Democratic Senator Mark Pryor because of his vote for ENDA:
The ENDA bill would prohibit private-sector employers and government employers on the local, state and federal levels from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That protects people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
Under the law, employers can’t fire or refuse to hire people based on actual or perceived sexuality and gender identity (which need not align with a person’s biological identity).
Churches and other institutions with religious purposes (like schools and daycares) are exempt from the ENDA rules, just as they are from the religious discrimination portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s Title VII.
Under Title VII, and therefore under ENDA, religious organizations, which need not be church-run, would be exempt. Additionally, all businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt, whether they’re religious or not.
Nelson Tebbe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in religious liberty, said ENDA’s religious exemption exceeds Title VII’s.
"It’s broader because the religious exemption in Title VII only allows religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion," he said. But it doesn’t allow religious groups to discriminate based on factors like an employee’s gender or race.
So by permitting religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ENDA allows them more flexibility than Title VII.
Let’s break down the Traditional Values Coalition claim to see how each mention would be treated if ENDA becomes law:
. . . Our ruling
- Daycare: "If it were a secular daycare that just happened to be owned by a religious individual with a conviction that prohibited them from hiring LGBT folk, then the exemption would not apply," Tebbe said. He added that nonprofit daycares with religious affiliations would be exempt.
- Parents: "There is nothing in ENDA that would require parents to alter their beliefs or what they teach their children about religion, homosexuality, marriage equality, et cetera," said Ian Thompson, an American Civil Liberties Union representative for LGBT issues.
- Business owners: For-profit companies with 15 employees or more would need to abide by ENDA, said Dena Sher, an ACLU religious liberty counsel. But Christian nonprofits and Christian (or any other) businesses with fewer than 15 employees would be exempt. Tebbe also noted that religious organizations who don’t hire LGBT people are protected under ENDA.
- Rights of religious freedom: "Not only does the Constitution protect religious freedom broadly, but existing federal discrimination law already prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion," Thompson said.
The Traditional Values Coalition said ENDA discriminates "against Christian daycare, Christian parents, Christian business owners, and the rights of religious freedom."
The bill’s religious exemption indicates that churches, church-run initiatives and other religious businesses need not comply by employing people of all sexualities and gender identities. And there’s no special negative treatment for Christians. Businesses of any religion could qualify for the exemption. Individuals of any faith who oppose sexuality would have to abide by the law, so no religion is singled out.
We can understand why religious conservatives may take issue with this bill. However, the rhetoric in the email is too broad and overstated, and claims to speak for all Christians.
Knowing the religious right, Politifact's fact statement won't keep them from making false statements about ENDA. However, it does provide our side with leverage against the claims.
We rate this claim False.