The American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center announced in a joint statement on Tuesday that they are withdrawing support for the Senate ENDA bill because of its sweeping religious exemption. [...]With ENDA thoroughly blocked in the House thanks to Speaker John Boehner and his Republican caucus, attention is shifting to President Obama's upcoming executive order applying to federal contractors. He can consider himself now officially under serious pressure to keep the religious exemption within reason.
Civil rights groups have long trumpeted their support for ENDA, which would make it illegal to fire or harass someone at work based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. But some have privately had concerns with an exemption in the bill that would allow businesses with religious affiliations to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That language goes far beyond religious exemptions afforded under The Civil Rights Act of 1964 for characteristics like race, gender, religion or national origin.
Not all LGBT groups are withdrawing support for the current version of ENDA; the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Transgender Equality continue to back it. As a reminder, it is still legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states.