One of the nation's largest LGBT rights
groups on Tuesday withdrew its support for the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
cited the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision in
announcing it was reversing its position on ENDA, which seeks to
prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and
Hobby Lobby challenged the Affordable
Care Act's (ACA) requirement that insurance health plans include
coverage for FDA-approved contraception, arguing that the law
violates the company's religious freedom. In a split decision, the
high court declared that some for-profit companies do not have to
offer such coverage, if doing so conflicts with the religious beliefs
of their owners.
ENDA, which cleared the Senate last
year but faces a steep climb in the House, includes exemptions based
“If a private company can take its
own religious beliefs and say you can't have access to certain
health-care, it's a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a
private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not
equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them,”
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force, told The
Washington Post. “We disagree with that trend. The
implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear.”
Carey added that her group does not
“take this move lightly.”
The Civil Rights Agenda, an
Illinois-based LGBT rights advocate, pulled its support for ENDA last
month, before the court handed down its ruling.
“In its current form ENDA would
create broad religious exemptions that would take away rights from
LGBT workers, and only from LGBT workers,” Anthony Martinez,
executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, said in a statement.
“This is just discrimination dressed up in religion. This would be
the first time that a special set of rules would apply to a minority
as it relates to workplace discrimination and religion.”
President Barack Obama last month
announced that he was prepared to sign an executive order banning
discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors.
Carey said her group is lobbying to
ensure that the president's order does not include a broad religious
UPDATE: Citing similar concerns, five
additional groups withdrew their support for ENDA in a
joint statement, including the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda
Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the
Transgender Law Center.