Saperstein backs law banning discrimination of gays

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Reform Jewish organizational leader testified in favor of U.S. legislation banning employment discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, testified at a House Education and Committee hearing Wednesday in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers to hire, fire, demote or refuse to promote an individual based on his or her real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Saperstein specifically noted the exemption for religious organizations in the bill, which he called "an essential part of this legislation."

"This legislation is not an endorsement of any particular religious viewpoint and it does not interfere with religious beliefs about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," he said. "ENDA simply ensures that workers are judged and rewarded based on their qualifications and performance, rather than on irrelevant and prejudicial factors. At the same time, it protects the right of religious communities to make their own employment decisions in this sensitive area."

"We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender men and women, for the stamp of the Divine is imprinted on the souls of each and every one of us," he said.

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