LGBT Groups Pull Support For ENDA In Wake Of Hobby Lobby Ruling

This post has been updated.

After the the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force dropped its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act over concerns the Hobby Lobby decision opened a door to abuse of the bill’s religious exemption on Tuesday, additional equality groups followed suit.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Tuesday that it would pull its support as it is currently written, along with the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center.

The groups cite concerns over the broad religious exemption included in the bill passed by the Senate in November. They worry that it could be used for companies to continue to discriminate against LGBT people due to religious beliefs, especially considering the exemption the Supreme Court allowed in its Hobby Lobby decision.

“Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “It would prevent ENDA from providing protections that LGBT people desperately need and would make very bad law with potential further negative effects.”

The ACLU had already been pushing to limit the religious exemption in the bill.

The Human Rights Campaign said on Tuesday that it will still support the legislation.

“HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people,” spokesperson Fred Sainz told TPM in an email.

When asked by TPM if the National Center for Transgender Equality would pull its support for the bill, the group did not back away from the legislation, but said they will push for a narrowed exemption.

“The National Center for Transgender Equality is deeply concerned with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling and the possibility that this decision could be grounds for further expanding religious exemptions. We believe that this ruling, though mistaken and harmful, is limited and should remain so,” the group’s director of policy, Harper Jean Tobin, Told TPM. “Regardless, NCTE has long pressed to narrow ENDA’s overbroad religious exemption, and will continue to vigorously oppose any attempt to cloak discrimination of any sort under the guise of faith. That is contrary America’s values, including our tradition of religious freedom.”

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