EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - November 07, 2007)
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Mr. PENCE. Madam Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Madam Chairman, I come before the House today in strong opposition to H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. However well-intended, the bill extends existing employment discrimination provisions of Federal law like those contained in title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Let me be clear. I don't condone discrimination against people for any reason whatsoever. I believe in civility and decency in society. But the problem here is that by extending the reach of Federal law to cover sexual orientation, employment discrimination protections, in effect, can wage war on the free exercise of religion in the workplace. In effect, as has been said already, this sets up something of a constitutional conflict between the right to religious freedom in the workplace and another person's newly created right to sue you for practicing your faith or acknowledging your faith in the workplace. This is, as has been said before, a deeply enshrined tradition in the American experiment, emanating, as it does, out of the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Some examples: Under ENDA, employees around the country who possess religious beliefs that are opposed to homosexual behavior would be forced, in effect, to lay down their rights and convictions at the door. For example, if an employee keeps a Bible in his or her cubicle, if an employee displays a Bible verse on their desk, that employee could be claimed by a homosexual colleague to be creating a hostile work environment because the homosexual employee objects to passages in the Bible relating to homosexuality.
The employer is in a no-win situation as well. Either the employer has to ban
employees from having a Bible at the workplace for their break time, or displaying Bible verses, and thereby face a lawsuit under title VII for religious discrimination, or the employer then has to continue to allow it and face a potential lawsuit under ENDA by the homosexual employee. This sets up a constitutional conflict headed for the courts, about which Congress should not involve itself.
Madam Chairman, I strongly oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We must stand for the right of every American to practice their faith according to the dictates of their conscience, whether it be in the public square or in the workplace. So I oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and urge my colleagues to do likewise.
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