Monday, September 21, 2009

Bathrooms, Church Exemptions, and Lies: Five ways the religious right misrepresents ENDA

I ran this post before but as hearing on ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act)take place this week, I reworked it as talking points which we can use to lobby Congressmen and educate the public on the deceptions about ENDA.

As the Congressional hearing on ENDA begin place this week, I have a source which tells me that the religious right will be working overtime to distort ENDA, from pulling the “sexual predators invading women’s bathrooms” card to claiming that churches will be "forced to hire flamboyant homosexuals."

Don't let them flip the script.

ENDA has nothing to do with bathrooms, gay men with wild fashion sense alarming old church mothers, or drag queens leading Christian nurseries in a chorus of "I Am What I Am."

ENDA is about ensuring that every American regardless of race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation is treated fairly under the law.

Why anyone would have a problem with this is something I can’t understand. But then again, I can never understand the lies and motivations of religious right groups when they masquerade as “pro-family.”

I found some talking points via the American Family Association regarding ENDA. If I know religious right groups (and I think that I do), these talking points will be repeated in one form or another on other sites and blogs. And they will probably repeated at the Congressional hearing.

I have created some answers to their inaccurate statements. I implore everyone to read them, pass them along, and above all when you lobby Congress (and you had better if you want ENDA passed), use these refutations:

Distortion - ENDA (H.R. 2981 - H.R. 3017 - S. 1584) has been changed from the "gay-only" version the House passed in 2007 to include language banning job discrimination based on "gender identity" as well as sexual orientation - complete with special protections for the transgendered. It would mean your child's teacher, if he were a male but "felt" like a female, could go into the women's bathroom.

TRUTH - According to the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, over 100 localities (cities and counties) in the United States have trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws. There has never been a problem of a man "claiming to feel like a female" invading women's bathrooms. The claim is a non-issue created to scare people and distract from the true purpose of ENDA.

Distortion - ENDA is aimed at providing heightened protections for a particular sexual behavior - homosexuality. It would grant special consideration on the basis of "sexual orientation" that would not be extended to other employees in the workplace.

TRUTH - ENDA says nothing about sexual behavior. Potential employees are already federally protected in cases of race, religion, gender, and national origin. Heterosexuals would be protected under ENDA along with lgbts because adding sexual orientation does not single out gays and lesbians any more than gender singles out solely women or men.

Distortion - ENDA violates employers' and employees' Constitutional freedoms of religion, speech and association. The proposed legislation would prohibit employers from taking their deeply held beliefs into account when making personnel decisions. This would pose an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into people's lives.

TRUTH - "Deeply held beliefs" are no excuse for discrimination of any stripe. A capable employee should not be fired simply because his or her boss has a “deeply held belief” against homosexuality. Also one could argue there is already "federal intrusion" in people's lives with the protections in the cases of race, religion, gender, and national origin. And ENDA does contain exemptions for religious groups and organizations.

Distortion - ENDA would approvingly bring private behavior considered immoral by many into the public square. By declaring that all sexual preferences are equally valid, ENDA would change national policy supporting marriage and family.

TRUTH - If "national policy supporting marriage and family" is changed, then it is a good thing. Not all families are heterosexually-oriented. Also, several states already offer lgbts either the right to marry or enter domestic partnerships. A national policy regarding families and marriage should embrace this change.

Distortion - HRC claims that ENDA does not apply to religious organizations, but the 2007 version of the law only provided a religious exemption for religious positions that were involved in actual teaching or proclamation of doctrine. Such a limited exemption, some pro-family legal experts argue, would mean that a Christian school that was hiring a secretary, janitor or football coach would not be allowed to reject a homosexual who applied for the slot.

TRUTH - The religious exemption of the 2009 version of ENDA (Section 6) has the same exemptions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a); 2000e-2(e)(2)).

Any unproven fear stories about churches being forced to hire anyone not conducive to their message or beliefs are just that - unproven fear stories.

Related posts:

Exposing an anti-gay ENDA lie before it gains traction

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Another 'Gathering Storm' parody and other Monday midday news briefs

Another 'Gathering Storm' parody because any reason to make fun of NOM is a good thing.

Voter Values Summit: All Porn Is Gay Porn - You gotta admit that it explains a heck of a lot.

Gay, Bisexual Teens at Risk for Eating Disorders - Pay attention to this article. It's sure to be distorted by the religious right.

Boy, 12, is having sex change, school announces - This is an interesting story.

Harry Jackson to Religious Right activists: Please stop sounding like racists - Me to Harry Jackson: stop pitting lgbts and African-Americans against one another.

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Another 'ex-gay' refusing to take responsibility for his own actions

(Edward) Delgado speaks about his life of homosexuality as a Southern California teen, when he’d had 10 male sex partners by age 19. He said a suggestion by a friend to read the New Testament led to a religious awakening, which has allowed him to live happily as a straight man.

Delgado said the homosexual lifestyle leads to promiscuity, abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse.

“The things that I speak are not a lie, because I’ve lived these things,” he said.

The faces are different but the narrative is always the same. You can always predict what these paid "ex-gay folks" will say.

The latest model, Edward Delgado, was speaking at the University of Alabama Fairbanks as a part of a series of lectures. Delgado, who was invited by Campus Bible Ministries, is a "ex-gay" who is now a deacon at Dimond Boulevard Baptist Church and has been married to a woman for 16 years and has two sons.

Well good for him but pardon me for yawning. Naturally some students and faculty members were upset at his comments, as they should be.

Granted, I'm all for his first amendment rights to speak and I'm all for the group who invited him.

But I would have taken another direction altogether when it comes to protesting his visit. I would have taken the opportunity to question him directly and publicly because Delgado's narrative is so repetitive.

I'm sure you have heard it all before:

"I did a lot of drugs, I drank like a fish, I had sex with everything but the trees. But it's not my fault. It was the homosexuality in me."

Almost every supposed ex-gay who has resurrected themselves as a preacher or a religious right spokesperson has told the same narrative. And don't get me wrong, I think that if they stopped with the bad behavior of drug abuse, alchoholism, etc, it's a good thing.

But for once, can they ever take responsibility for their own actions? I mean maybe their sexual orientation had nothing to do with their decision to take that drink, snort that drug, or bend over for anyone with a pulse.

Maybe they themselves made the individual decision to engage in bad behavior just like many lgbts across the nation make the decision not to do these things.

Delgado can believe what he wants but I resent his implication that being an lgbt is to blame for his personal choices. For him to do so impugns the reputation of myself and the many lgbts who are living our lives sans the bad behavior of alcoholism, illicit drugs, and promiscuous sex.

For once, I would like to see people like Delgado questioned on this. Forget protesting their appearances because to do so only gives them power. It makes their message more palpable in terms of "oooh what he has to say gets so many people angry so I want to hear it."

To expose "ex-gays" like Delgado, we shouldn't discourage their right to speak. We should encourage them to speak with as much detail as possible. And we should question them as much as possible.

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