Republicans Seek to Amend, Expand Exemption in ENDA, Protecting Religious-Affiliated Entities

An amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act's religious exemption authored by Sen. Rob Portman and cosponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Dean Heller, Orrin Hatch, and John McCain seeks to expand that exemption so that it protects religious-affiliated entities from being penalized by governments, Buzzfeed reports.

PortmanThe amendment reads:

“A religious employer’s exemption under this Act shall not result in any action by a Federal government agency, or any state or local government agency that receives Federal funding or financial assistance, to penalize or withhold licenses, permits, certifications, accreditation, contracts, grants, guarantees, tax-exempt status, or any benefits or exemptions from that employer, or to prohibit the employer’s participation in programs or activities sponsored by that Federal, state, or local government agency. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to invalidate any other federal, state, or local law or regulation that otherwise applies to an employer exempt under this section.”

According to Buzzfeed, LGBT advocates from Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom to Work will not actively seek to oppose the amendment, and all believe it is an unnecessary provision.

Another sought after amendment, coming from Pat Toomey, would expand the exemption's language, and all LGBT groups are opposed to it. A draft of that amendment was also published by Buzzfeed:

“(b) In addition, (i) an employer shall qualify for this exemption if it is (in whole or in part) managed by a particular religious corporation, association, or society; if it is officially affiliated with a particular religion or religious corporation, association, or society; or if the institution’s curriculum is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion; and (ii) This exemption shall apply regardless of whether the employer, or the employment position at issue, engages in secular activities as well as religious activities.”

The full Senate is expected to take up the bill as soon as today.

Some activists had already expressed concerns about the base religious exemptions in the bill. The NYT also wrote in an op-ed that it found them "terribly broad."


  1. Strepsi says

    Wow, that is not an “amendment”, that is an end-run around law for CHristians! Spectacularly unconstitutional on its face.

    Pat Toomey is a miserable, Dominionist POS.

  2. yuninv says

    Well isn’t that cute by half. I can’t discriminate against these bigots, but they have free range to discriminate against me.

  3. HadenoughBS says

    These religionist amendments to ENDA are BS. So much for workplace protections for GLBT workers!

  4. Truthteller says

    Pass this at your own peril Dems. This is NOT an ENDA I’d it gets passed like this. It’s nothing more than DOMA for non-military employers.

  5. Gregory In Seattle says

    These a-holes will not be content until “religiously-affiliated entity” is defined as any organizational structure that doesn’t like The Gayz. Who needs an anti-discrimination law when companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A are exempt from its provisions?

  6. Kevin says

    Portman might be evolving on his homophobia but still has a long way to go.
    I’ll also say this,you can be sure his son is not going to ever be in fear of not being able to find work,unlike thousands of other LGBT workers.

  7. woodroad34 says

    Religion is the god of rights. If “fairy” related to anything it would be religion, the fairy tale of irrational minds.

  8. says

    What never gets addressed is that ‘religious objections’ is in reality discrimination. They’re asking to be allowed to legally discriminate because they claim it as religious doctrine. WTF Bottom line is it’s still discrimination. Exemptions, excuses, end runs for this behavior have got to stop.

  9. alguien says

    if those religious organizations are tax exempt, then they should be following the same non-discrimination rules as everyone else.

  10. AdamTh says

    Why bother trying to pass ENDA with that Toomey Amendment? That amendment effectively guts the rest of the bill.

  11. AdamTh says

    Let’s just make the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution the ‘Christian Exemption Amendment’. Christians would be exempt from ALL laws – except the ones they want to use against the rest of us…

  12. Andrea says

    Here, in Italy we don’t have marriage or civil union, nothing; but our religious organizations are banned from discriminates on matter of sexual orientation, isn’t it strange?

  13. renovato says

    Might as well add an additional clause to this piece of disgraceful “legislation”, which says – “”Clause( ) No one who does not have a mind to, needs to take any heed of this legislative measure.””
    The US Senators who have voted for this need to hang their heads in shame.
    One other thing to think about – since federal law is generally “superior” to state laws this piece of c**P “ENDA” could invalidate or override regional and state measures actually reducing employment protections!!!!!

  14. simon says

    We don’t have Federal recognition of same sex unions either in the US. I am not familiar with Italy. But in European country like France which is supposed to be quite Catholic, they also have very strong left-wing parties which are no friends to the Church. It is not like in the US where both parties are parties of God. Democratic party is a bit better but still afraid to offend the Churches.