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The Leading Edge: The ENDA Agenda

October 31, 2013



The Story: “The ENDA Agenda,” by Ryan T. Anderson at

The Lead:

Of course, employers should respect the intrinsic dignity of all their employees. But ENDA is bad public policy. Its threats to our freedoms unite civil libertarians concerned about free speech and religious liberty, free marketers concerned about freedom of contract and government interference in the marketplace, and social conservatives concerned about marriage and culture:

Civil Liberties. ENDA would trample fundamental civil liberties and unnecessarily impinge on Americans’ right to run their businesses the way they choose. Individuals should be free to form associations and contracts according to their own values and should not be coerced into accepting the federal government’s set of values.

Free Markets­. ENDA would further increase federal-government interference in labor markets, potentially discouraging job creation. It would not protect equality before the law, but create special privileges that are enforceable against private actors. It would impose liability on employers for alleged “discrimination” based on their employees’ subjective, self-disclosed identities and not on their objective traits.

Traditional Values. ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human. The proposed law would treat these convictions as if they were bigotry.

Why it Matters:  My friend Ryan Anderson has written a very thoughtful post that explains why libertarian, free market, and social conservative ought to be united in opposition to the “terrible public policy” – but politically correct policy – of ENDA – the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

It is terrible public policy.  We have dozens, if not hundreds, of cases explaining its unyielding threat to religious liberty (and, if you do not believe it poses a threat to religious liberty, ask yourself why lawmakers are insistent there be included religious exemptions in any final form of the bill).  In addition to Ryan’s defense of free market economics, let me add a legal consideration: why would businesses actively vote to increase their legal liability?

But this is more than mere sophistry.  Anderson, while speaking above each of us to the broader body politic, requires that we individually and personally consider the implications.  Florists, photographers, wedding event coordinators, retreat centers, and bakers have been targeted for harassment, sued by their government, and forced out of business for the crime of holding to an orthodox Christian belief in gender – a belief that has at its heart a love and respect, indeed, the celebration of one’s gender.

Do you think you will be exempt?  You may not be a baker, florist, butcher, or candlestick maker, yet you may share the same faith that motivates them and that leads you both to the conclusion that gender matters.  If so, your day-to-day life will face the penalty of government should ENDA enter our code books.

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