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Equality news round-up: ENDA edition

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Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill

– The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has announced its opposition to the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Senate-passed version contains a religious exemption that’s broadly worded and unprecedented in federal anti-discrimination legislation. The NGLTF cites that as well as the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court as motivation for its opposition:

Frankly, it is becoming harder and harder for me, for us, to tolerate our own moral and political inconsistencies by protesting the Hobby Lobby decision, then advocating for the current ENDA with its broad religious exemption, and then insisting that the president not include a broad exemption in the upcoming executive order protecting LGBT people working for federal contractors. How can we demand that a woman have coverage for reproductive healthcare at a company but support a bill that allows a lesbian cafeteria worker in the religiously affiliated hospital next door to be fired from her job?

In the last year alone, we have seen a wave of attempted and successful efforts at imposing religious exemptions on issues of reproductive health and LGBT equality on the local, state, and federal level. And it is crystal clear in the week following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision that the momentum is building on religious exemptions. Not 48 hours after the decision, Pastor Rick Warren joined other faith leaders in a letter to the president asking that he include a broad religious exemption in the contractor executive order. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law.

There is a better alternative: federal nondiscrimination legislation that contains a reasonable religious accommodation. LGBT people should have the same protections as those contained in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Legal equality is legal equality.

– The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the Transgender Law Center issued a joint statement announcing that they’re withdrawing support as well.

– Pro-LGBT faith leaders have written a letter to President Obama asking him not to include further religious exemptions in his upcoming anti-discrimination executive order. The order will apply to federal contractors.

– Pride at Work has also withdrawn support of ENDA.


  • 1. MichaelGrabow  |  July 9, 2014 at 8:11 am

    The attorney in the SD suit is asking for a summary judgment

  • 2. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:08 am

    CO state court hearing this morning to stop the Boulder County Clerk just ended. Unfortunately, no live video and no live blogging. Judge Hartman said he hopes to rule soon. I'm looking for more substantive details. Stand by.

  • 3. JayJonson  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

    brandall, thank you so much for your posts keeping us informed about these cases. You and Ragavendran contribute so much to the site. With the prospect of Ragavendran being away for a month or so, we will depend upon you even more.

  • 4. SeattleRobin  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I'm glad these groups have withdrawn support for ENDA in its current form. With this Supreme Court bad legislation is most certainly much worse than no legislation.

  • 5. DaveM_OH  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

    CA6 update:

    Final appellee brief filed in Henry (14-3464) yesterday.
    Also, a load of amicis were granted permission to file briefs in Bourke, Tanco, and Obergefell last week.

  • 6. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:42 am

    So AP jumped the gun. The hearing is still going on. It was scheduled for 9am to 12 noon MDT. I found a reporter tweeting out from the courtroom. "AG's attorney objected to this hearing turning into a case about gay marriage [huh?]. AG is not seeking to overturn licenses issued at this point in the case."

    I have to run to the airport. If anyone else would like to follow @jsteffendp and update us, please be my guest.

  • 7. Ragavendran  |  July 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

    According to this report, the judge is hearing testimony from gay couples who were married in Boulder County in the past two weeks. Suthers's attorney objected to this, saying that this case is not supposed to be about the merits of gay marriage. The judge has also said at the outset that he is unlikely to rule immediately.

  • 8. ragefirewolf  |  July 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I don't think it was ever about marriage on the merits. It was about whether Boulder County could issue licenses while the 10th Circuit's decision has been stayed. I personally believe that a clerk may neither surreptitiously nor overtly up and decide what is legal to do or not. It matters not that the action is intended in our favor…it is putting the cart before the horse. We are in danger of other rogue clerks taking direction from their beliefs willy-nilly rather than lawful direction until they are sued into order.

  • 9. Jen_in_MI  |  July 9, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Anything about DeBoer?

  • 10. F_Young  |  July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Colorado's Gay Marriage Fight Echoes Drama in 1975

  • 11. TomPHL  |  July 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

    One of the possible ways to challenge the constitutionality of a law has always been to break the law and use the law's unconstitutionality as a defense. This has its risks if you lose, but was how the sodomy laws were invalidated in Lawrence. In this case Hall believes she is acting within the law and is being taken to court by the AG who disagrees. The courts will decide and I expect she will abide by the courts decision. She is not opening the door for other rogue officials. That door has always been open and others on the other side have already gone through it many times.

  • 12. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Hearing has finished. One women from each of two couple testified representing Hall. This is why we read the comments above about the AG saying this is not a ME case. The AG brought in a witness from the Bureau of Vital Statistics to testify how licenses are issued. County Clerk Hall testified for the final hour. Cross examination of Hall included her saying the harm to the state is not allowing couples to marry, a play upon the AG's positioning. [no link, pulled from multiple sources]

  • 13. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    BIG news alert….Utah AG will file petition with SCOTUS as opposed to seeking ruling from the full 10th circuit. Utah is opting for "clarity and resolution from the highest court"…

  • 14. Zack12  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I think the fact that the court is more Democratic now and the fact one Republican has already ruled against them make them decide against doing the En Banc hearing.

  • 15. debater7474  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    The court was never going to grant a motion to rehear En Banc; the only question was whether Utah would use the motion as a stalling tactic. Even some of the conservatives on the court would probably prefer to just let it go up the Supreme Court. When the ninth denied en banc in Perry, only a couple of the conservative judges dissented. Most content to let it move on to the next level.

  • 16. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    My source in Utah beat AP by 13 minutes. Here's the AP story:

    NOTE: Scottie has posted this announcement very quickly. Hopefully, we will continue this discussion under that article and not split the threads in two places.

  • 17. StraightDave  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    This indicates UT is not simply interested in time-wasting tactics or deferring to another state. They're going to deal with this head-on and give it their best shot. It also pretty much assures SCOTUS a chance to deal with this next Spring if they want to (or deny cert in Dec). In any case, the fuse has now been lit…. counting down…. 1,000,000… 999,999…

  • 18. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I know from the experience waiting in Windsor and Hollingsworth that December was pretty much the very latest we could expect a decision on cert, but what's the earliest? October?

  • 19. StraightDave  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    This sounds incredibly early vs the 90 day requirement, unless I'm missing something (again):

    "Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement Wednesday it will file an appeal to the high court sometime in the next couple of weeks"

  • 20. Ragavendran  |  July 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    The Daily Camera reports that the judge said this was a very complex case and that he'd rule soon. Also, the judge made it clear he won't be deciding right now, as far as a TRO or preliminary injunction is concerned, whether the licenses issued so far were valid or not:

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  • 23. ragefirewolf  |  July 10, 2014 at 5:36 am

    I'm sure you're right. I still don't like it, but that's just me. The reasoning seems sound, I suppose. Seems a little too late for initiating civil disobedience…?

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