The social conservative group Focus on the Family is urging lawmakers to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), arguing passage would stifle the religious freedom of employers.

The bill that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections) is sponsored by openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank in the House and two Democrats – the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon – and two Republicans – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine – in the Senate.

“ENDA is a litigation minefield and a direct threat to religious liberty in the workplace,” Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family, said in a letter addressed to representatives.

“What will happen when homosexual or 'transgender' employees object to: religious articles on employees' desks; water cooler discussions about biblical morality; Bible verses taped to cubicle walls; fliers on company bulletin boards advertising discussions concerning traditional marriage?,” Minnery asks. “This is already happening in states and municipalities with ENDA type laws and many of these case are in litigation.”

Minnery also argues that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity just doesn't exist and that being gay is a fluid orientation that cannot be defined: “How can a business be expected to avoid discrimination against categories of individuals that are potentially ever-changing and based on subjective self-identification?”

Passage of ENDA in the House appears quite certain but the bill faces obstacles in the Senate, where it has attracted thirty-four co-sponsors. Lawmakers are expected to take up the bill before the December recess.

A large majority of Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar policies for their gay and lesbian workers, but only a third include transgender employees. Only 12 states protect transgender people from workplace discrimination.

“Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace,” said Michael Silverman, executive director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, a transgender rights group, in a statement. “In these difficult times, it is imperative that Congress pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that transgender people, like all Americans, have an equal opportunity to participate in the workplace.”

Opponents, however, call the bill an attack on religious liberty.

“Gay rights activists have wanted this bill a long time to keep religious employers from being able to hire and fire based on their moral convictions,” Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, told Citizen Link.