Obama LGBT Hat Trick

A Golden Opportunity for Christ Followers

With the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act already passed by the House and working its way through the Senate, the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) scheduled for a House Education and Labor hearing this month, and the introduction of legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration is quietly waiting in the wings to pull off a hat-trick for lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) activists.

ENDA introduced by Rep. Barney Frank would prohibit an employer from refusing to hire someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill (H.R. 3017) specifically exempts religious organizations, and according to a popular LGBT blog  post by Dr. Jillian T. Weiss this extends to religious oriented businesses, schools and camps. It does not extend to secular businesses that are owned by people of religious beliefs that condemn LGBT sexual orientation.

The Respect for Marriage Act introduced by Rep. Gerald Nadler repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and would grant federal recognition to same-sex marriages if the marriage was performed in a state that allows such unions. The repeal would have implications for taxes, social security benefits, and pensions, regardless of where the couple lives. In other words if a same-sex marriage was performed in Connecticut ( a state that recognizes such unions) and then the couple moved to Maryland ( a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage) the couple would have all the rights afforded a man-woman marriage by the federal government.

All three pieces of legislation will be working their way through Congress and the debate over family values and discrimination will begin to perk to the top of the House’s to-do list late this fall. Already conservative organizations have begun campaigns to illuminate the subtleties of the bills. Mean while LGBT groups are turning up the heat fearing that health care reform, climate change, and the appropriations bills will push their agenda to the back burner and away from the President’s desk.

The legislative trio comes at a time when a growing number of Christian churches and organizations are questioning the biblical validity of the venom being spewed by some conservative Christians. In his book unChristian: What a New Generation Thinks About Christianity and Why it Matters, author David Kinnaman devotes an entire chapter to the intolerance, both perceived and real, that has stereotyped the evangelical church. Kinnaman maintains that this is the single biggest issue that prevents younger generations from being open to the truth of the gospel.

As Christ followers we have an opportunity in this debate to erase years of misconceptions and animosity. We can stop the demagoguery and remember that the traditional views (i.e. slavery) of the church have not always been correct. We can debate the issues with tolerance and compassion. We must open the doors of our churches to the LGBT community and say “There is room in here for all”.  Above all else we can remember that we are called to love one another.

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