Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Family Action targets ENDA and DOMA and so do we

The Family Action Council of Tennessee has been writing about the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Respect for Marriage Act, which would overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Family Action's objection to ENDA is that it would cause a problem for employers with religious objections to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and want to have the ability to fire them or not hire them in the first place. It should be noted that ENDA does not apply to religious organizations. But it would apply to organizations and businesses that are not religious in nature such as Exxon or the State of Tennessee. What if there is a director in one of their departments who has a religious objection to hiring people with different sexual orientations or gender identities? Too bad. I fail to see how a religious understanding of sexual orientation or gender identity should be the basis of whether someone at Exxon or in State government gets a job.

That's really the issue. It's not that the top leadership of most large employers like the State of Tennessee have established some policy that seeks to root out GLBT people. The problem with large employers with hundreds or even thousands of supervisors is that some of them will bring their views of us to the workplace and use their power to deprive us of work. ENDA would deter that sort of discrimination.

Family Action is nervous about the Respect for Marriage Act, not because it would immediately lead to same-sex marriage in Tennessee, but because of the surprising ways that federal action reaches into the states. I agree that the Repeal of DOMA will not immediately lead to marriage equality in Tennessee. But working to repeal DOMA is the one constructive thing people in Tennessee can do to bring it closer.

So this coming Sunday, which is National Coming Out Day, we'll be gathering to contact our Members of Congress about ENDA and the repeal of DOMA--two pieces of legislation that can make a big difference in states like Tennessee where the advances in equality are beginning but small.

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