The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Declarations of Discrimination

This is rich. Speaking of ENDA, apparently it’s making some religious organizations nervous, despite the fact that it contains exemptions for religious organizations. It’s not because they’re afraid they won’t be allowed to discriminate any more. It’s because they might have to say that they discriminate, and say why.

Congress may soon call on religious institutions ranging from summer camps to charities to declare up-front whether they are unwilling to hire gay employees.

A bill that, if passed, would become the first federal law to prohibit employment discrimination against gays contains a broad exemption for religious organizations. But to qualify for that exemption, religious groups would have to declare “which of its religious tenets are significant” and must be adhered to by employees. Lawyers say this requirement could put pressure on religious organizations to state a doctrinal prohibition against homosexuality in order to continue to legally exclude gay job applicants.

“This is something new,” a law professor at George Washington University, Ira Lupu, said. The effect of such a law, Mr. Lupu said, would be that “there is no more First Amendment right to be exempt unless you want to tell us that making us hire these people is really in conflict with our religious commitments.”

It gets better.

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“These organizations may be perfectly happy with a sort of don’t ask and don’t tell policy,” the general counsel of the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern, said, “but this may force groups to take one side or the other.”

Here’s the thing. Why wouldn’t these organizations want to state that they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and say why? Publicly, even? Why would they, if it’s a central tenet of their religious beliefs, not want to shout it from the rooftops, or “go tell it on the mountain” the “good news” that faith requires them to discriminate?

Is it because discriminating against gays and lesbians in the workplace is increasingly unpopular in a society where seven in ten Americans know someone gay, where four in ten have gay friends and family, and where knowing that makes them more likely to support equality? And maybe a little less like to support organizations that discriminate?

Maybe. In that case, I can see why they’d rather not tell if folks don’t ask. After all, if they don’t say that they discriminate and folks don’t ask if they discriminate, those organizations can continue getting the benefit of the doubt and donations from those who might not open their pocketbooks so quickly if they knew that the organization they would other wise support actually does discriminate; and probably would discriminate against they’re friend, brother, sister, etc.?

But if they’re so certain they’re right, why do they need the benefit of the doubt.

After all, they have no doubt they’re right. Or very few, anyway.

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