Press

NRLR urges passage of Employment Non-Discrimination Act in visits to congressional representatives

Date: 
September 26, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator
(Office) 646.358.1479
(Cell) 787.602.5954
pjserrano@theTaskForce.org

“In the United States today, the sad truth is that intolerance, oppression and even violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are cloaked in Judeo-Christian theology. However, many religious voices like ours are proclaiming that it is immoral to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
— Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources and National Religious Leadership Roundtable Member

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR) members met with their own representatives and key leaders of Congress this week to urge the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Roundtable issued a statement in strong support of ENDA, which was distributed in Congress during NRLR members’ visits to Capitol Hill. Most importantly, they stressed the inclusion of transgender people and the existing religious exemption as key parts of the act that they support.

Citing the important role religious leaders play in holding civil society accountable for its ethical values, the NRLR calls on Congress to uphold its value of equal protection under the law. The NRLR, an interfaith group with members spanning the spectrum of faith denominations, convened this week in Washington, D.C., for its semi-annual meeting. Collectively, the NRLR speaks on behalf of communities in congressional districts across the nation.

Statement by the National Religious Leadership Roundtable
on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

“We, the members of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), write in support of the passage and signing into law of H.R. 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is morally wrong to deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people the ability to earn a livelihood and provide for their families.

“In the United States today, the sad truth is that intolerance, oppression and even violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are cloaked in Christian theology. However, many religious voices are now joining the public debate on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people and, like us, are proclaiming that is immoral to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Other groups of religious leaders have already spoken out in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, such as the Bishops and Elders Council, a nationwide network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affirming churches and organizations touching the lives of 98 million Americans, which earlier this year urged U.S. Congress to pass ENDA and President Bush to sign it into law.

“ENDA contains a religious exemption that allows houses of worship, seminaries and other religious organizations to be guided by their tenets and teachings, even those that would exclude LGBT workers. This legislation does not endorse any religious viewpoint and does not interfere with religious practice or belief.

“As religious leaders, we implore upon you to act to make illegal discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. All LGBT people deserve the opportunity to live and work in American society; and we believe it is our moral duty to ensure that all in our country, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, should be granted this basic right.”

Signed by the 17 members of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable who visited members of Congress on Sept. 24, 2007, and fully endorsed by the NRLR.

Signatories:

Rev. Steven Baines, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Jimmy Creech, Faith in America
Jamie Curtis, PFLAG
Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
Swami Dhumavati, Kashi Ashram
Emily Eastwood, Lutherans Concerned/North America
Rev. Ruth Garwood, United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns
Bob Gibeling, Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Network
Marco Grimaldo, Center for American Progress
Rev. Debra Haffner, Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing
Rev. Cedric Harmon, Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Idit Klein, Keshet
Dr. Joel Kushner, Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation
Rev. Troy Plummer, Reconciling Ministries Network
Phil Soucy, Lutherans Concerned/North America
Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Institute for Welcoming Resources
Rev. Bernhard Zinkgraf, Ecumenical Catholic Church

Signatories are available for interview or comment. Contact Pedro Julio Serrano at 646.358.1479.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.