Federal Legislation
May 2, 2011

H.R. 1397—Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Action Requested:
No action is requested at this time. HSLDA will continue to monitor this bill and will send out an action e-lert if a hearing is scheduled for this bill.

Background:
ENDA will make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire an employee based on that person’s “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” This would mean that a business or organization with more than 10 employees would be barred by federal law from refusing to hire a person because of the person’s sexual orientation or how they identify their gender “with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.” This opens up the opportunity for anyone to file a lawsuit against a business or organization they claim did not hire them based on their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

Although H.R. 1397 includes an exemption for religious organizations, this religious exemption could lead to courts making a determination if a certain employee was hired to perform work of a religious nature, or if the business or organization is even religious in nature. Additionally, this religious exemption would not apply to a secular company, even if owned and operated by people of faith who believe that homosexuality is a sin. H.R. 1397 will require people of faith to check their religious practices at the door of their workplace.

Legislative History:
ENDA was first introduced in 1997. Previous bills have made little progress in Congress. The 110th Congress’ version of ENDA in 2007 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but never came to a vote in the U.S. Senate. In the 111th Congress it was introduced again but never went out of committee.

Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) recently introduced S. 811 in the Senate, which is a companion bill to H.R. 1397.

Current Status:

4/5/2011Referred to House subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions

Sponsor: Rep. Barney Frank (MA-4)

Bill Summary and Status H.R. 1397

HSLDA’s Position:
Oppose.