Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

Trump & ENDA


Based in part upon his campaign remarks, several weeks ago I began telling friends that Donald Trump's presidency may represent an opportunity to finally get a federal LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) through Congress. His selection of Jackie Evancho to sing the national anthem at his inauguration was a hopeful sign in this vein.

An even more positive action came yesterday when the White House issued a statement that: "The executive order [by Barack Obama] signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump." This was not a universally popular move with Trump's base. Just as only Nixon could go to China, it may be that the Left's bête noir Trump is the president who can get ENDA passed.

Assuming Trump has any interest in doing this, one pitfall would be bringing Republicans on board. That might be accomplished if Democrats would compromise and agree to a religious exemption for people who have religious scruples against participating in same-sex marriage. There is no principled reason why a florist in Washington or a baker in Oregon, for example, should have their livelihoods ruined or jeopardized merely because they don't want to participate in a same-sex wedding.

While I disagree with their theology, some folks consider marriage to be a holy sacrament ordained exclusively for the joining of a man and a woman. I don't think the government should compel them to violate their conscience in this regard. I voted for same-sex marriage when it appeared on the ballot in my state and I think Obergefell v. Hodges was properly decided but liberty means that we can't always turn to the government to impose our values on others.

If Trump did signal his willingness to support passage of ENDA, I regard it as more likely that Democrats and LGBT activists (rather than Republicans) would belligerently torpedo any possible deal by refusing to compromise on religious accommodations. In fact, given the current overheated, often dishonest anti-Trump rhetoric, "progressives" would probably try to block an ENDA deal on partisan grounds alone. I hope I'm wrong.

Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign rally at the University of Northern Colorado.

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