As Congress prepares to once again consider the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), media outlets should avoid giving platforms to hate mongers who have made careers manufacturing blatant falsehoods about the bill.
On July 10, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on ENDA - a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except for the 109th. The measure already has 52 Senate co-sponsors, though its prospects in the House remain to be seen.
An overwhelming majority of Americans support ENDA, including a strong majority of Republicans, Catholics, and senior citizens. Even among people who identify themselves as having unfavorable feelings towards homosexuality, half favor workplace protections for LGBT people. In fact, nine out of ten voters incorrectly believe a federal law like ENDA already exists.
For years, however, anti-LGBT activists have stalled ENDA by peddling absurd horror stories about the bill's impact on religious freedom. These stories range from inaccurate (business won't be allowed to have dress codes!) to totally ridiculous (churches will be forced to hire drag queens!), and all are easily debunked by even a cursory reading of the bill.
This year will be no different, and mainstream media outlets will likely to be tempted to give airtime to ENDA's opponents if the bill appears likely to pass.
Fox News in particular has a nasty habit of airing extreme voices to express opposition to LGBT non-discrimination efforts, especially when they involve transgender people. Across all major cable news networks, the desire to appear “fair and balanced” on LGBT issues - even ones that should be no-brainers - typically ends up giving credibility to fringe anti-gay voices.
This already seems to be the case for CNN, which in March published an op-ed by Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC), condemning ENDA for its alleged impact on religious liberty.
Instead of giving ENDA's opponents a national platform to peddle anti-LGBT propaganda, media outlets should identify them as who they really are: people fighting against even the most basic, common sense protections for LGBT workers.