Zack Beauchamp makes it:
[T]he core of the debate is about whether employers should have the right to determine whether their employees can be out in the workplace. It’s about replacing individual control over one’s sexual orientation and gender identity in the place where most Americans spend the vast bulk of their day with employer control.
This can’t be squared with a concern for individual rights. The employee-employer relationship grants the employer immense amounts of power over their workers, who depend on their boss’ good will for their livelihood. Allowing employers power to fire employees who come out of the closet, full stop, subjects LGBT employees to immense coercive pressure. Their most basic right to conscience, the right to express a core part of their identity, is obliterated.
Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips post the above chart, which shows state-by state support for ENDA:
Will ENDA receive the necessary votes? If senators listened to their constituents, the bill would pass overwhelmingly.
Nearly all recent opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American public — more than 70 percent — supports efforts to make employment discrimination against gay men and and lesbians illegal. Of course, these national numbers are not what the senators are likely to care about. However, when we use national polls to estimate opinion by state, we find that majorities in all 50 states support ENDA-like legislation (note that in 1996, majorities in only 36 states supported ENDA). Today, public support ranges from a low of 63 percent in Mississippi to a high of 81 percent in Massachusetts.
But Mark Joseph Stern is unsure whether the current bill is worth passing:
No version of ENDA has been perfect. In its 2007 iteration, the bill tossed out transgender protections, leading to some truly idiotic in-fighting among gay-rights groups. This time around, the problem isn’t transphobia (yet); it’s religious liberty. The bill’s religious-exemption provision includes the usual exceptions for houses of worship and religious groups. But it also includes a startlingly broad exemption for religiously affiliated organizations that, for whatever ostensibly religious reason, dislike trans or gay people.
That exemption, designed to attract moderate Republicans’ votes, is less of a loophole than it is a blank check for blanket discrimination. Several gay-rights groups have already hoisted a red flag over the religious-liberty provision, noting that they give a “stamp of legitimacy” to anti-LGBT discrimination. They’ve noted, too, that the battle cry of “religious liberty” also mirrors conservatives’ blatantly racist attempts to slip similar exemptions into the civil rights bills of the 1960s and ’70s.
I outlined the case against ENDA last night. Unlike Stern, I favor maximal religious liberty in these cases – and maximal publicity when a gay person is fired merely for being gay.