A bill passed today by the U. S. House of Representatives to extend workforce protections to gay was criticized by legislators, including Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, who say the bill can create problems for Christians:
Opponents argued that the bill would open the door to litigation against Christians who display their Bibles or even pull out verses at their work stations, and who might be charged with creating a "hostile environment" for gays.
"The freedom to practice one's religion is one of the most fundamental, inalienable rights bestowed on us," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) "This innocently enough named bill would actually have the effect of rolling back these protections." Predicting "litigation and lots of it," Blunt said the bill set up a constitutional conflict between "your right to religious freedom and another's right to sue you for it."
A Los Angeles Times article described the legislation:
Under the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, businesses with 15 or more employees would be prohibited from discriminating in hiring, firing or promoting individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. The armed forces, private clubs and religious organizations would be exempted.
The 235-184 vote came after Democratic leaders, after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, opted not to include transsexuals in the bill for fear that the inclusion of gender identity would cripple the coalition supporting the measure. That decision led to a bitter split among the bill's backers, leaving advocates for transsexuals and transvestites angry.
"The last five weeks have been divisive and ugly and utterly unnecessarily," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He called the victory "a symbolic vote," unlikely to survive the Bush administration's veto threat or even a Senate debate.