Tuesday, October 23, 2007

White House Warns Of ENDA veto

White House Warns Of ENDA Veto
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: October 23, 2007 - 4:00 pm ET
(Washington) In its first statement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians in the workforce the White House said Tuesday the bill is likely unconstitutional and that if it passes in Congress the president's senior aides would recommend vetoing it.
"[The bill] is inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion as codified by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)," the White House said in a statement.
The House is expected to vote on ENDA, along with an amendment that would extend protections to include gender identity on Wednesday.
The White House raised what it called two examples of how ENDA would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
"For instance, schools that are owned by or directed toward a particular religion are exempted by the bill; but those that emphasize religious principles broadly will find their religious liberties burdened by H.R. 3685. A second concern is H.R. 3685’s authorization of Federal civil damage actions against State entities, which may violate States’ immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."
The administration also said that ENDA was result in unnecessary litigation.
For instance, the bill establishes liability for acting on “perceived” sexual orientation, or “association” with individuals of a particular sexual orientation. If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach."
In addition the White House said that provisions of ENDA "give Federal statutory significance to same-sex marriage rights under State law. These provisions conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. The Administration strongly opposes any attempt to weaken this law, which is vital to defending the sanctity of marriage."
The threatened veto is the latest in a series of problems ENDA has encountered.
It originally included all members of the LGBT community, but the bill's author, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) removed gender identity fearing the legislation might not get out of committee.
The move angered most LGBT rights groups, many of whom accused Frank of selling out transsexuals.
Nevertheless, the revised bill passed the House Education and Labor Committee last week on a 27 - 21 vote. (story) Several committee Democrats, including presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich refused to support the measure without the inclusion of protections for trans people.
Following the vote Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) proposed an amendment that would reinstate gender identity and secured the support of House leadership to introduce it Wednesday when ENDA reaches the floor. (story)
Frank and Baldwin are the only two out members of Congress.
Friday, Frank announced he would support the amendment and said he would lobby for its passage. (story)
ENDA, as currently worded, would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee.
There are, however, some notable exceptions. It does not cover small businesses, churches and the uniformed members of the armed forces.
The White House concerns suggest that ENDA could be used against faith-based agencies and to seek domestic partner benefits from employers.
The threatened veto is the second against LGBT legislation before Congress. The other is the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime Act.
That legislation has passed the House. The Senate version passed as an amendment to a military spending bill. The two versions are now in conference.
©365Gay.com 2007

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

ENDA Vote Postponed .....
Now it seems that the vote on ENDA has been postponed @ least a week. From what I hear it's to avoid a Bush veto. Who in their right mind didn't think Bush would veto it? It appears the bill has become too hot to handle. Let's hope when it comes together it will include our transgender community.