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ENDA, Pathetic Amendments, and the End of the Fight for Religious Liberty

[Update: Even after Democrats rejected Senator Toomey's milquetoast amendment, he still voted for the bill.  He was joined by 9 other undocumented Democrats - Ayotte, Collins, Flake, Hatch, Heller, Kirk, McCain, Murkowski.  We are at the point in the U.S. Senate where Democrats can count on GOP support for odious legislation so long as they are offered a mere vote on their phony amendment.]

If you want a glimpse into the insufferable nature of the Senate GOP and its leaders, study this week’s legislative process over the transgendered trial lawyer employment bill (ENDA).

On Monday, after GOP leaders refused to marshal opposition against cloture, Democrats picked off several new Republican votes.  A total of seven Republicans voted for cloture – Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, Orrin Hatch, and Pat Toomey.

What did the members get in return for the vote on cloture?  A phony religious liberty protection:

“Senate passage of ENDA seemed more and more likely Wednesday after the Senate unanimously accepted an amendment by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) protecting religious groups exempted under the legislation from government retaliation. That amendment likely secured the vote of several other Republicans pushing for that language, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).” [Politico]

This is a classic one-sided Republican deal.  They will vote for a bill mandating the hiring of cross-dressers to any position as long as the government doesn’t retaliate against religious groups.  And of course, John McCain was in on it.

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on one more phony amendment.  In exchange for his vote for cloture, Senator Toomey secured a vote to “expand” the religious protections.  The underlying bill only exempts those groups whose “purpose and character are primarily religious.”  His amendment would expand that to organizations that are partly religious in nature, such as a school that teaches religion for part of the day.

What’s missing from all of this?

Private business owners – religious or otherwise.

If you own a daycare center or any other business and object to the dissolute behavior of a cross-dresser, you are out of luck.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will have full latitude to agitate seminar discrimination complaints and infringe upon private property rights.

Amazingly, even this milquetoast amendment is being subject to a 60-vote threshold.  They couldn’t even secure an agreement for a simple majority vote in exchange for ensuring passage of the bill.

The amendment is being co-sponsored by Senator Flake, which means he will join McCain in juicing up the Democrat supermajority.

All the while, there has not been one word of opposition from Mitch McConnell.  As Democrats pick off members one-by-one, there is no counter effort to stand up for religious liberty.

It’s time we confront an inconvenient truth about most Republicans in Washington.  We already know that most of them are not fiscal conservatives.  But the reality is that few of them are social conservatives either.  Checking the boxes on abortion and marriage, and then doing nothing to stop a bill like this is worthless.

Democrats know that Mitch McConnell will never stand up for religious liberty.  Period.  They have free reign over the Republican Conference.  This is reminiscent of the reaction to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s DOMA decision, in which he dressed up an anti-religious liberty manifesto as legal jurisprudence.  Even as all the other leaders condemned the decision, we got nothing but crickets from McConnell.

“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell issued no statement at all.” [Yahoo News, 6/27/13]

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) simply flashed a smile and ignored a reporter’s question about the court’s decision Wednesday.” [Politico, 6/26/13]

With leadership that refuses to fight on anything, leaves the carcass of the fractured conference to Democrat scavenging, and completely surrenders on even the most bedrock social/liberty issues, what is left of the GOP in the Senate?

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