Today, in the wake of the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Employment Non Discrimination Act (“ENDA” – a measure banning employment discrimination against people on the basis of their “sexual orientation”), Nathan Diament, public policy director of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, issued the following statement:
While the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America neither endorses nor opposes the. ENDA bill, we commend the House for including robust protection for religious houses of worship, schools, charities and other entities in the legislation by explicitly exempting such entities from ENDA’s coverage.
Upon adopting, by an overwhelming vote, an amendment offered on the floor today by Labor Committee Chairman George Miller – which states that any religious entity which enjoys a religious hiring rights exemption under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is thereby exempt from ENDA – the House has reaffirmed its recognition of the Constitutional imperative to protect the religious freedom of faith-based organizations.
This recognition is particularly welcome after the past several years, during which many Democratic members of the House repeatedly called into question the validity and propriety of the right of religious entities to enjoy a right to hire employees who shared the faith mission of the employer. The fact that these members voted for Chairman Miler’s amendment is a very welcome development.
We commend Chairman Miller as well as Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Rob Andrews and Barney Frank, who led the ENDA effort, for being responsive to the concerns we and our coalition partners expressed to them about the bill’s impact on religious employers. We also commend the Republican members of the House – Ranking Member McKeon and Representatives Souder and Hoekstra – for putting religious liberty concerns at the forefront of the debate over this bill