WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite the far-reaching implications of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and the fact that one-third of the Senate voted against it, only one U.S. senator had the courage to utter a word against it today.
It was not Ted Cruz of Texas, who gave a 21-hour filibuster against ObamaCare – although he had been rumored to speak against it. It was not Rand Paul, whose 13-hour filibuster over the Obama administration's use of drones blazed across the nation's headlines.
It was Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, whose 12-minute speech highlighted a series of left-wing policies that are pushing religious freedom into the margins of American life.
“Make no mistake, we are seeing the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech constrained and restricted,” he said.
ENDA putatively punishes workplace discrimination based on sexual preference (including bisexuality) or “gender identity.” Although it exempts some religious organizations, Coats said it would infringe on the rights of far too many Americans.
“The so-called protections from religious liberty in this bill are vaguely defined and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices,” Coats said. “Faith-based daycare providers could be forced to hire individuals with views contrary to the faith incorporated values of these daycare providers.”
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“Do we want to support policies that discriminate against an employer's religious beliefs and require employers to hire individuals who contradict their very most deeply held religious beliefs?” he asked.
Coats, who has a 100 percent pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee, said that allowing complaints over the workplace environment is a way of “opening the door to the silencing of” Christians and others who object to homosexual behavior.
“I oppose discrimination of any kind, and that includes discrimination of individuals or institutions for their faith and values, which often gets lost and has been lost in this discussion,” he said.
He noted of the “two types of discrimination here” – discrimination against religious people and “discrimination” that allows people to practice their religion – only “one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every American through our Constitution,” the “cherished value of freedom of expression and religion.”
“For these reasons, I am not able to support this current legislation, and I hope my colleagues would stand with me in protecting religious freedom and oppose this legislation,” he said.
In the end 10 Republicans voted for ENDA, including John McCain and Rob Portman.
After the speech a former staffer, Rob Schwarzwalder who is now with the Family Research Council, saluted Coats' “integrity, moral courage, personal warmth, and commitment to principle,” which “make him an exception among national political leaders.”
Coats served in the U.S. House and was twice elected to the U.S. Senate before retiring in 1999 to work in the private sector. He later served as U.S. ambassador to Germany before announcing a surprise run for the Senate in 2010.
His pro-family stance will not hurt him with constituents back home. A recent poll showed 62 percent of Indiana residents support a stronger law protecting marriage in the Hoosier state. Coats' colleague, Democrat Joe Donnelly, voted for ENDA.
You may read his full speech here.