Ben Johnson


John McCain, Jeff Flake broke campaign promises by voting for ENDA

Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2013 ( – Two Republican Senators are coming under harsh criticism after breaking campaign promises not to vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of Arizona, were two of the 10 Republicans who voted for the transgender “rights” bill ENDA when it passed the Senate by a 64-32 vote on Thursday. Arizona was the only state with two Republican senators to see both vote for the bill.

ENDA gives homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people special rights and protections against “discrimination” in the workplace – rights usually restricted for discrimination based on race, religion, or sex.

But when they were seeking re-election, both McCain and Flake told state voters they opposed “adding 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' or 'gender expression' to protected classes or race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry in discrimination law."

McCain and Flake made their statements in response to a questionnaire from the Center for Arizona Policy in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

Flake included a special note saying, while he supported adding homosexuality to discrimination legislation, “I oppose adding 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to anti-discrimination laws.”

However, the version of ENDA that he voted for last week (S. 815) includes “gender identity” as a protected class. An employer who refuses to allow a biological male to use the women's restroom, workplace locker room, or showers could face litigation under its terms.

John McCain offered no such nuance. Although he included two typewritten pages of explanatory notes and provisos addressing other points, he simply said he opposed bills such as ENDA.

“Family, faith, and freedom are at the heart of the American experience, and I have worked throughout my career to promote and strengthen America's commitment to them,” McCain wrote in 2010.

“I pledge to you that I will continue my fight to bring Arizona's conservative values of family, faith, and freedom to Washington,” he concluded.

In his last re-election, McCain faced a substantial primary challenge from former Congressman J.D. Hayworth before defeating his Democratic challenger.

Cathi Harrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the bill is itself discrimination. “ENDA is a false bill of goods: while it claims to end discrimination, this bill in fact fosters discrimination against business owners and employers with sincerely held religious beliefs,” she said.

Christian daycare centers, for instance, could be sued for “discriminating” against a homosexual transgender applicant.

“This legislation creates an environment where government mandates compel business owners and employers to choose between their faith and their chosen profession,” Harrod said. “ENDA compromises our first freedom – to practice our faith, free from government interference.”

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It is unclear whether Arizona voters will have the opportunity to hold both men accountable for breaking their word.

Although he said in September that he was “probably” in his last term as a U.S. Senator, McCain has said he is still considering seeking a sixth term in 2016, by which point he will be eighty years old.

McCain added that some people would like to see him try for another office.

“Particularly since the shutdown, I’ve had a spate of e-mails and letters and phone calls saying, ‘Run for president again,’” he said

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