ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) finally passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, November 7, 2007.
Although, Echelon Magazine would have preferred that they pass the version including gender identity protections, it will be interesting to see how the whole thing evolves and how far it will go. It’s likely that the Senate won’t even consider putting it on their slate of affairs until next year, and even more likely that old George won’t sign it. Whether or not it will actually be signed into law this time, and despite the lack of inclusion of our transgender brothers and sisters, ENDA as it stands today is a bold statement that our country’s political climate is moving in the right direction – even if it’s not exactly following our road map.
But, what boggled our mind, throughout the debate was why religions were given such an enormous amount of consideration with regard to how the law will apply to them. The newly passed ENDA continues to safeguard the discriminatory employment practices of religions. However, the “for-profit” religious institutions still feel that their faith/business is in jeopardy as they would not be able to fire gay people simply because homosexuality is against their religion.
Call us naïve, but we would think that a religion is a group of spiritual individuals whose dogma is based on love. Isn’t that the main theme of the bible, to love one another? Well, if this is love, we’re not feeling it. Let us try and figure this out for a moment. Religions consider Gays and Lesbians to be individuals who are living their lives in sin. Therefore, they need to be protected under the law by being able to not hire someone who is a sinner.
Let’s turn the tables for a moment and hypothetically require the removal of phrases stating non-discrimination on the basis of religion or creed. What if a company decided not to hire someone because they were a Christian – would our conservative friends have a problem with that? After all, your religion is a “choice.”
We are of the belief that humans do need spirituality, religion or some kind of connection to the divine in order to get out of our heads and try to come up with some kind of explanation for the unknown. Whether it is idolatry, Hinduism or tree worshiping, people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. But, our country was founded on a principle of “Separation of Church and State” and that principle was created to protect our citizens from religious persecution. Our laws must be determined based upon what is right for our citizens regardless of creed. Anything else is a blatant nod to a collective group of Americans who blindly support a justification for hate.