I disagree with those gay rights groups that withdrew their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a proposal that would bar employment discrimination based on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender status [“Gay rights groups pull support for anti-bias bill,” news, July 9]. The asserted basis for this withdrawal of support is the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. However, that decision does not undercut the proposed ENDA legislation.
In Hobby Lobby, the court held that requiring employers to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraception interfered with the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs. However, not providing the benefit of such insurance coverage is not the same as denying someone a job for discriminatory reasons. For example, if an employer had a religious basis for not hiring African Americans or women, I believe that the government would have a “compelling interest” in forbidding such discrimination. This “compelling interest” is grounded in equal opportunity, fairness, merit-based hiring and jobs for our economy.
Further, such legislation is the least restrictive way of confronting the problem of discrimination in employment. Simply put, the way to end employment discrimination is to make it unlawful to discriminate. This is what we have done for the past half-century.
Accordingly, if Congress were to extend employment protections to the LGBT community, I believe such legislation would be upheld by the Supreme Court, notwithstanding Hobby Lobby.
Harold. J. Datz, Arlington