A Cry for HELP from Senate GOP
How many of you would feel comfortable dropping off your kids in a school that encouraged faculty cross-dressing? At least three Senate Republicans would. Today, those leaders -- Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) -- threw their support behind a bill that would force sexual confusion on almost every classroom, day care, and summer camp in America. Insisting the legislation is just a harmless little "anti-prejudice" bill, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 15-7 to make employees' bedroom habits a preeminent consideration in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (or ENDA) has been debated in Congress for years, but it's never had this kind of backing from liberals, who -- just two years ago -- had so many reservations about the policy that it never made it to the Senate floor. Once Democrats realized that schools and other employers could be forced as part of the bill to hire transgenders, they removed their support altogether. Now, under the guise of ending "workplace discrimination," ENDA has new life, thanks in large part to a handful of Republicans who seem eager to sacrifice religious freedom and common sense on the altar of political correctness.
If the bill passes, employers everywhere would face a very familiar dilemma: violate your conscience or pay the price. For those not concerned with religious freedom, there are the practical implications to consider like dress codes and lost profits. Just a few years ago, a completely secular clothing company, American Eagle, fired a man who dressed like a woman because his appearance was driving away business in its store. But according to the state's anti-discrimination law, the company's bottom line didn't matter nearly as much as this man's hurt feelings.
As part of a private settlement, American Eagle was forced to hire cross-dressers no matter how uncomfortable it makes customers or employees! Some New Yorkers were surprised. After all, shouldn't companies be free to enforce a dress code? Not under this law. "The ENDA bill is going to mean a lot to me," said transgender and ex-Navy SEAL "Kristen" Beck, "Just for the pure fact that I can show up for work in a dress..." If not, homosexual and transgender activists will be able to use ENDA to sue employers into submission on an agenda that could cost them millions of dollars in lost business and costly litigation.
As FRC's Peter Sprigg explained on CNN, employers will be staring down serial lawsuits from disgruntled workers whose dismissal may have had nothing to do with their sexual behavior! They could sue "for 'discrimination' over a characteristic or sexual preference which is not even visible and of which the employer may have been unaware. In the case of public employers, such laws at the local and state level have led to large settlements being paid at taxpayers' expense."
What's worse, this version of the bill offers absolutely no protection for religious nonprofits or business owners. Unlike past mark-ups, the HELP committee didn't offer a single religious freedom exemption for non-church entities. That didn't seem to bother the members of the committee, who spent just minutes discussing the measure before it was passed. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who became the object of intense liberal lobbying, ultimately voted no on the bill because of the vulnerability of religious liberty. "I am concerned that the ENDA bill would go beyond our existing laws protecting individuals' employment rights and would impose new burdens and legal uncertainties regarding the exercise of religious liberties."
Of course, the irony of all this is that if anyone needs workplace protections these days, it's conservative Christians. Under ENDA, their nightmares will only intensify. To see where all of this is leading, click over to our website, FightENDA.org, to witness what life without religious freedom would look like and to order our powerful documentary so you can spread the word. Most importantly, contact your senators and strongly urge them to vote no on an ENDA bill that would fundamentally change America -- forever.
You Have the Wright to Remain Silent
Unfortunately for our troops, many are already adjusting to a workplace without religious freedom. Yesterday, our coalition of 14 organizations determined to change that. In a Capitol Hill press conference, FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin and I joined congressmen and allies from across the conservative and military spectrum to draw a line in the sand for the religious rights of U.S. service members, whose faith is being smothered by an intolerant Pentagon.
"Today is the 237th anniversary of General George Washington's general order establishing the Chaplaincy," Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) told the crowd. "In that general order, he stated, 'The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.' Unlike General George Washington, nobody here is suggesting that every soldier be Christian or that every soldier live and act like Christians. But we are suggesting that the President allow Christian soldiers to have the right to live and act like Christians...or whatever faith."
In response to a letter from Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Air Force Under Secretary Eric Fanning, the homosexual activist now managing the Air Force, brushed off Congress's concerns about the myriad examples of the branch trampling troops' faith. To the question about Mikey Weinstein's involvement in setting secular policy, Fanning shrugs off the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's obvious influence. "Neither MRFF," he writes, "nor [its founder] Mr. Weinstein serves as or has served as an official consultant of the Air Force regarding the Service's free exercise of religion policy."
Whether or not Weinstein serves in an "official" capacity is irrelevant. The reality is, the Air Force produced an entire booklet of anti-faith regulations at Mikey's request. From the Washington Post: "After demands from Weinstein, the Air Forced published, but has yet to distribute, a 27- page document, which includes a cover sheet that states: "COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY. 'Leaders at all levels,' the document says, 'must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.' It even suggested that noncompliance could result in court-martial."
Likewise, Jessica Wright, Acting Under Secretary of Defense, refused to answer the specific questions of 70 members of Congress and instead regurgitated the same old talking points about the DOD placing a high value on religious exercise. In four very dismissive paragraphs, Wright waved away the elected leaders her agency is answerable to -- and in the process, showed the same contempt for congressional oversight as her commander-in-chief often does.
Fortunately for our brave service men and women, the Pentagon will find it a lot harder to bypass Congress if Rep. John Fleming's (R-La.) military conscience rights amendment passes as part of the Defense Authorization bill. Make sure your representative is on board by calling the office and urging their support!
Do elections have consequences? You bet. It took 140 years for Republicans to win back control of the North Carolina legislature in 2010 -- and their hard work is finally paying off in the form of solid pro-life legislation. Just before the Fourth of July, the Tarheel Senate gave its approval to a proposal that would protect more women from a Kermit Gosnell-type clinic, where safety is secondary to profit. Under the bill, abortion clinics would have to meet the same standards as other surgical centers -- which would protect women and could help shut down some of the state's two dozen abortion mills.
Meanwhile, in Texas, the state House once again gave its blessing to a set of sweeping pro-life legislation -- including the ban on abortion after 20 weeks, when babies can feel pain. After a rowdy crowd of liberals derailed Texas's first crack at the bill, Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas) convened a special session, vowing his state would finish the pro-life business it started. The vote, 98-49, came after several hours of emotional testimony and debate. By law, the state house has to pass the proposal for a second time (a formality) before it heads to the Texas Senate.
We continue to applaud the brave state leaders -- including Governor Perry -- who refuse to back down, even in the face of intense pressure and harassment. Someday soon, our movement looks forward to welcoming Texas into the proud coalition of states that are helping to end the suffering of women and innocent children.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.