Equality California Opposes Broad Religious Exemption to Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Equality California believes in an America free from employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. For that reason, EQCA supports the passage of the federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act, but we strongly oppose the broad religious exemption that has been attached to it.

This sweeping, unprecedented exemption gives a stamp of legitimacy to discriminate against LGBT people and undermines the core principle that all LGBT people should be free of employment discrimination.

“Ensuring that all American employees are judged on the quality of their work, not their sexual orientation or gender identity, is fundamental to achieving full equality,” said Rick Zbur, EQCA executive director-elect. “But that protection shouldn’t come with an asterisk or loophole, and that’s what this religious exemption is — a way to promise full protection without delivering it. This exemption undermines the value of ENDA and it must be fixed.”

This loophole would allow not only houses of worship, but also a broad range of religiously affiliated institutions — like hospitals and universities and non-profits that provide social services using public funding — to freely discriminate against and fire LGBT Americans.

California has strong anti-discrimination protections that don’t include this broad religious exemption, and these protections have been proven fair and effective in the nine years since they were enacted. We believe that this is the right course nationally as well — pass ENDA, but without the broad religious loophole.

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor 96 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org