Religious Exemption or Exceptionalism? Exploring the Tension of First Amendment Religion Protections & Civil Rights Progress within the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Advancement Project; Equal Justice Works; National Lawyers Guild Review
Legislation and Policy Brief, Vol. 3, No. 1
This comment discusses ENDA’s long history of broad religious exemption and its meanings for LGBT civil rights progress ahead. Part I traces ENDA’s religious exemption transformation from 1994 to present, noting a narrowing of the exemption as the LGBT movement witnessed increasing political success. Part II examines the delicate balance between the First Amendment Religion Clauses, as well as LGBT civil rights and religious freedom, and argues that ENDA’s previous exemptions tipped this delicate balance toward religious over-accommodation prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Part III concludes that the LGBT movement experienced a significant victory with the modified religious exemption in the 2009 version of ENDA, which challenged the conservative Christian bloc’s political and cultural monopoly over LGBT rights’ narrative, and represents the defeat of a potentially dangerous precedent for future civil rights struggles.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 18, 2010 ; Last revised: April 7, 2011
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