Thursday, September 25, 2014

Freedom To Discriminate

That is what some religious organizations want; they want to be able to discriminate in employment for non-religious positions like janitors and teachers. The current federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) expanded the religious exemption from those who are directly involved with religious teachings to all employees.
Jobs lost over LGBT issues on the rise
National Catholic Reporter
By Bob Shine
Sep. 25, 2014

At least 17 U.S. church employees have been fired, resigned, refused to renew restrictive contracts, or had job offers rescinded over LGBT-related employment disputes this year.

This means that of the 40-some employees who have lost jobs at Catholic institutions since 2008 because of their sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancies or personal views on homosexuality, nearly half have lost their jobs this year.

Three developments are exacerbating problems for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender church workers and their co-workers in 2014, but there are signs of hope as well.
In most cases, Catholic employers are considered legally justified in their actions because of religious exemptions and the patchwork nature of LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws.

That said, Catholic laypeople are finding the actions of church leaders to be morally unjustified and are increasingly standing beside fired church workers. Sustained protest efforts by parish and school communities experiencing employment disputes have occurred in the states of Washington, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio.
In over half of the states it is still legal to fire gay and lesbian couple when they marry so when a couple tries to have their spouse’s insurance coverage they get fired.

Churches are trying to push the envelope to say that employees are also covered by the religious exemption; however, in all the non-discrimination laws the exemption just covers those employees who are directly teaching religious dogma.

If they get their way and expand the exemption by either legislation or court decree it will be far reaching, way beyond parochial schools. It can affect hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and even apartment houses. Did you know that the Catholic Church is one of the biggest landlords in the nation?

In a landmark case in New Jersey Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization owned a pavilion that they rented out and when they denied renting it to a lesbian couple the couple filed a discrimination complaint. The camp association had signed an agreement when they asked for a tax exemption for the property that said the pavilion was open to all of the public. The courts ruled that by denying the lesbian couple rental of the pavilion it was not open to all of the public.

It the religious exemption is expanded the camp association would be allowed to discriminate, also churches could refuse to rent an apartment to any LGBT persons. That is why we should oppose the current ENDA legislation or any legislation that expands the exemption.

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