HRC’s Chad Griffin Says Congress Must Narrow ENDA’s Religious Exemption and Pass Full LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Wednesday called on Congress to narrow the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act one day after several other top LGBT rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the ACLU pulled their support of the bill.

GriffinHRC had come under criticism for standing by the bill. Said Griffin in today's statement, posted at Buzzfeed:

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a very simple reason. It will guarantee millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all 50 states explicit, reliable protections from discrimination in the workplace. We call on our allies in Congress to improve this bill’s overly broad religious exemption. A strong ENDA is worth fighting for because we cannot ignore the urgent need of countless LGBT people who do not have the luxury of waiting for these protections.

…We cannot and will not ignore the imperative of this moment. As long as this Congress is in session, we will fight for ENDA — with a narrowed religious exemption — because these workplace protections will change millions of lives for the better. But this movement has a responsibility to also chart a course for the future.

Griffin also stated the need for a full LGBT civil rights bill:

But regardless of whether or not ENDA passes in this session of Congress, it is time for the LGBT movement to throw its weight behind a fully comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill. A bill that, at long last, would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all core civil rights categories — including housing, public accommodations, credit, education and, if ENDA fails to pass, in employment. This is a visionary idea that Congresswoman Bella Abzug brought to Congress in 1974. Its time has come.


  1. Randy says

    Cowards. There is no such thing as a “narrow” religious exemption.

    The vast majority of people who discriminate against us do so for religious reasons.

    Further, by normalizing religious exemptions, we contribute to a larger two-tier system of laws in the USA — one for the religious, and a stricter one for eeryone else.

  2. Nate W. says

    It does not need to be narrowed. It needs to be eliminated.

    Do not donate to the HRC!

  3. StillmarriedinCA says

    People who use their religion as an excuse to discriminate are bigots who are too cowardly to even defend their own choices. “My religion made me do it” is not acceptable when it comes to our equal rights. Every single person who claims to be devoutly religious ignores a myriad of commands from their holy guidebook. Many of these “sins” are based on ancient and outdated ideas or are just too inconvenient to obey. And yet, they just have no choice but to condemn Homosexuals.
    Many congregations accept and celebrate us as equals, so if your church demands that you treat me as “unclean” you have made a CHOICE to stay in that church rather than to find one that truly adheres to the principles that Christ taught.
    We are born this way and religious beliefs are something you choose to hold. There is no way that their rights should come before ours.

  4. Richard says

    “Narrowed” exemption? Just a little religious-based discrimination? Very disappointing, Chad.

  5. Joe in Ct says

    HRC needs to pull out too. Their continued support for a law that too broadly permits discrimination is unacceptable.

  6. says

    Hey, HRC… Would you support a narrow religious exemption in the Civil Rights Act of 1964? One that says, “You can’t discriminate against black people in employment. Unless you’re a church and you don’t want to hire a black person. And then it’s fine.”

    How about this rule of thumb: Substitute the word black for gay, and if you find the proposal unacceptable you have your answer.

    So now if someone from HRC can tell me why LGBT people deserve fewer rights than black people — and why an “LGBT rights organization” supports a bill that says LGBT people deserve fewer rights than black people — I am all ears.

  7. j says

    what a joke
    as if this congress is going to do anything of the sort
    even the clueless HRC is aware this is absurd and meaningless
    why therefore, did they put this out?
    this is a ridiculous spineless bs organization
    that lives to rub shoulders with the power elite –

  8. bbock says

    HRC is not a visionary group. They are good at attending cocktail parties. Remember that HRC was against the Perry case that ultimately ended Prop 8 in California. Although Chad Griffin was against HRC in that. But this religious exemption thing might seem to the cocktail swillers and glad-handers to be a compromise. The trouble is it’s not a compromise. It’s a total cave-in since the people who are most likely to discriminate against gays are doing it for religious reasons. This makes no sense.

    HRC has also given away reforms on public accommodation, lending and leasing. By separating them from employment, HRC has assured that we will probably never get those other needed reforms. They need to be passed in a package, not piecemeal.

    I stopped giving to HRC and GLAAD a long time ago. GLADD is a bunch of star f***ers who give awards to homophobes like Brett Ratner and awards to the US president who signed both DOMA and DADT, Bill Clinton. HRC is to politicians what GLAAD is to celebrities. They like the cocktail parties and expense accounts, but it comes at a hefty price for the rest of us whose rights they give away.

    We deserve better rights organizations, but we won’t get them as long as people keep giving them money.

  9. DC Insider says

    Bella Abzug did not include gender identity on her bill. That political anchor was added much later to make sure that it will never pass.

  10. BP says

    It’s worth noting the part that isn’t being discussed. The bill hasn’t changed, what has is the SCOTUS ruling (and the potential implications of it). The groups who are now not supportive of the bill, were supportive of the bill prior to Hobby Lobby. The bill has always had a religious exemption in it.

    Whether withdrawing support for the bill post-Hobby Lobby is a smart decision or not aside, it’s important to remember that the groups were seemingly “okay/willing to tolerate” the religious exemption previously.