Senator Rob Portman: ‘I am Inclined to Support’ ENDA

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) suggests he may evolve on ENDA and end up supporting it, Gannett reports:

2_portman“The underlying part of the bill I agree with,” Portman said, “but I’m still working on some of the religious liberty issues.”

The legislation as currently drafted includes an exemption for churches and other religious associations. It would not apply to any “corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions” of the Civil Rights Act, according to the legislative text.

But Portman suggested that he’s not completely satisfied with that language and he is working with the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., to strengthen the exemption. Still, the Ohio Republican suggested his support for the measure does not hinge on changing the religious exemption.

“I am inclined to support it, anyway,” he said.

Adds the news outlet: "Portman’s possible 'yes' vote could be pivotal for the measure, which is currently just a few votes shy of the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat a GOP-led filibuster."

Portman, as you may recall, has a gay son who prompted the senator's reversal to support marriage equality.

The religious exemption, as we reported earlier today, has been met with skepticism by some LGBT groups. The activist group GetEQUAL released a statement today opposing the exemptions currently in the bill:

“While we are glad that ENDA will receive a vote in the Senate for the first time in almost 20 years, we are dismayed that the bill continues to excuse religious bigotry as acceptable under the law. Broad religious exemptions in the bill actually make it possible that institutions such as schools, hospitals, and universities can continue discriminating against LGBT employees and prospective employees.

We’re calling on progressive champions in the Senate — including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown — to speak out against these exemptions, establishing a clear record that these exemptions are not necessary and are not acceptable in 2013.”


  1. patrick says

    The problem with this bill and others like it, is that it is codifying specific discrimination against homosexuals by a broad range of our society. It is saying that said discrimination is valid, legal and justified by not only the religious groups but for their vast non-religious holdings and entities as well. This renders any benefits moot.

  2. says

    Haven’t reviewed this bill but I don’t believe that religious ‘holdings’ like schools, charities, & hospitals will be excluded. That’s that part that has always been the toughest sell.

    Watched/listened to the Hawaii Committee take testimony on SB-1 last night for several hours and was astonished at the sheer number of religious people that showed up to claim that their religious ‘freedoms’ weren’t protected enough.

    Opponents to LGBT equality have clamored to the argument that LGBT equality in any realm is a denial of their ‘right’ to discriminate because it can be claimed as religious based. The idiocy in the argument is plain to see but few in positions of power are willing to address it directly like New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charlie Daniels did last week.

    The ability to claim broad spectrum undefined tenets incorporating discrimination as religious freedoms may have to be challenged. I’ve taunted many times that if religious organizations want to claim Biblical writings as sacred religious tenets that they should have to claim ALL of them or none of them, not pick and choose whichever suits their purpose. Maybe it’s time that taunt was tested.

  3. MiddleoftheRoader says

    If ENDA says only that the exemptions will be the same religious exemptions that now exist in the more general Civil Rights Act, then we shouldn’t be pushing for more at this time. If the general Civil Rights Act has religious exemptions that permit discrimination by such religious organizations that want to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, etc., then it’s unreasonable in ENDA to ask that these same exemptions shouldn’t be available where the basis is sexual orientation.

    Yes, there’s a problem to allow religious grounds to justify discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc — but that’s a bigger issue than ENDA and it should be dealt with separately. Let’s get ENDA passed and at least get the same protections that others are getting under the Civil Rights Act.

  4. Day Late, Doller Short says

    Rob Portman is what a great dad looks like if your dad is Rick Santorum.

    “Ya know, my kid is a gay, and I just want to make sure some Christians aren’t forced to hire him if they truly believe he’s going to Hell because he’s an abomination that should be discriminated against. I’m Rob Portman, and I’m almost a barely-adequate father.”

  5. nick says

    Day late and dollar short is spot on. As a life-long Ohioan-Rob Portman is not to be trusted. He is led by his religion on every issue. He is anti-women and kowtows to the Religious Teabaggers who control the Republican party in Ohio. His nod to SOME gay issues is only because he discovered his son was gay – period.

  6. Randy says

    If this is the cost of getting ENDA, forget it.

    It will never even come up in the House anyway.

    Wait for a Democratic congress, and pass a clean bill, without expanding Big Religion.

  7. Paul R says

    At least in the areas where I’ve lived, most schools, charities, and hospitals aren’t religious. Maybe I’ve just never gone or donated to any because I’m sure they’re crap.

  8. Francis #1 says

    Good on Rob Portman for supporting his son. Has to be said considering his history, his religious views, the Republican party, and the fact 50% of kids are rejected by their parents when they come out.

    With all of that said, Rob Portman really doesn’t care about LGBT rights whatsoever. That’s been evident and remains such. If he wants to further water down ENDA and sees that as the way for him to support passage of the bill, I’d rather ENDA in it’s current form be killed.

  9. Francis #1 says

    Or shall I say, I’d rather a further watered down version of ENDA be killed. The current bill has more than enough exemptions and protections for the religious folk.

  10. DC Insider says

    Once again, people, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Give the religious nitwits their exemption and move on and help the millions of people who do not choose to work for a religious organization.

    if you are gay, and work for a religious organization of any kind, you are a loser. You getting fired for being gay from that organization (by the way why are you working for an organization that would fire you for being gay) is the logical and expected outcome of making such an idiotic life decision.

  11. says

    Based on the reactions by some gays toward gay-friendly Republicans like Portman I don’t see how it’s in his political interest to become more gay-friendly. Comments I’ve read on line generally say “Thank you but f**k you” when Republicans or conservatives extend a hand. Why bother. It would be better to take some of these nasty comments and use them as a campaign against gays. I’m sure they could get people teetering in their support for our causes to lean in the opposite direction.

Leave A Reply