Fact Check

FRC's Sprigg Spreads Lies About Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

July 18, 2013 3:16 pm ET

Family Research Council (FRC) Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg continued his organization's history of spreading misinformation about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) during a July 17 interview on Salem Radio Network's The Janet Mefferd Show, falsely claiming that the bill is vague and unnecessary.


ENDA Would Ban Employment Discrimination On The Basis Of Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity. According to the Huffington Post:

ENDA would bar companies from factoring sexual orientation or gender identity into employment decisions. Employers are already prohibited by federal law from discriminating over race, religion, age, gender or disability. The proposal exempts businesses with fewer than 15 employees as well as religious organizations. [Huffington Post, 4/25/13]

Claim: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Are Choices And Shouldn't Be Protected

Sprigg: People Choose Their Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity, So They Shouldn't Be Protected By Law. According to Sprigg:

Those [protected] categories - those characteristics are usually things - this is my own description, this is not a technical, legal description, but they're usually characteristics that fit into what I call the five I's, the letter "I." They are inborn; immutable, meaning you can't change them; involuntary, meaning you can't choose them; innocuous, meaning they cause no one harm; and/or they are in the Constitution. Now all of those criteria apply to a characteristic like race or sex but none of them apply to the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or to the choice to present yourself as the opposite of your biological sex. [The Janet Mefferd Show7/17/13]

Reality: Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Are Immutable Characteristics

American Psychological Association: Sexual Orientation Is Not A Choice. According to the American Psychological Association's (APA) report on ENDA:

Is sexual orientation a choice?

No. The available studies indicate that same-sex attractions generally emerge by early or mid-adolescence without any prior sexual experience. And some people report trying very hard over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. For these reasons, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed. [American Psychological Association, accessed 7/18/13]

Studies Show Gender Identity Is Deeply Rooted In Biology. According to a press release from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center:

In what are believed to be the first studies of their kind, Hopkins researchers followed the development of 27 genetically male children - with normal XY male chromosomes. All were born with cloacal exstrophy, a rare, major defect characterized by lack of a penis, but presence of normal testicles, indicating exposure to normal male hormone patterns before birth. Twenty-five of the children were reassigned by physicians at birth, castrated and raised as females. Presenting the findings at the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society Meeting in Boston today, William G. Reiner, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist and urologist at the Hopkins Children's Center, reported that the majority of these children, between the ages of 5 and 16, have subsequently "reassigned" themselves back to males. All 27 showed strong male behaviors, activities and attitudes.

"These studies suggest that male gender identity is directly related to normal male patterns of male hormone exposure in utero," says Reiner. "These children demonstrate that normal male gender identity can develop not only in the absence of the penis, but even after the removal of testicles or castration at birth, and unequivocal rearing as female. Rather than the environment forming these children's gender identity, their identity and gender role seem to have developed despite a total environment telling them they were female." [Johns Hopkins Medicine, 5/12/00]

American Psychiatric Association: Gender Dysphoria Is Real, Being Transgender Is Not A Mental Disorder. According to the Washington Blade:

Advocates welcomed the American Psychiatric Association's decision on Saturday to remove Gender Identity Disorder from its list of mental disorders.

The APA specifically removed GID from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel (DSM) of Mental Disorders and replaced it with Gender Dysphoria.


"What we did in that workgroup and what other activists have been pushing for is reconceptionalizing the state of being trans from a mental illness," [transgender activist Dana Beyer] told the Washington Blade. Beyer added this change will have implications for children who see a therapist for GID to trans activists fighting against what she described as "fundamental opposition" in state legislatures. "We are no longer mentally ill and that has huge implications just as it did for homosexuality in 1973. It's absolutely game-changing." [Washington Blade12/5/12]

Claim: ENDA's Religious Exemption Is Vague

Sprigg: It's "Unclear" Whether ENDA's Religious Exemption Applies To Christian Educational Institutions. According to Sprigg:

Now there is a religious exemption in the bill, but it is often unclear exactly how broad the scope of these religious exemptions will be in practice. ... Would it cover a Christian nonprofit organization, or a Christian school, Christian college? There is some question. That's sort of a gray area. [The Janet Mefferd Show7/17/13]

Reality: ENDA Clearly Exempts Religious Organizations

ENDA Explicitly Exempts Religious Institutions. According to Section 6 of ENDA:


This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pursuant (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.) to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a), 2000e-2(e)(2)). [S.815, Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, accessed 7/2/13]

Claim: Gays And Lesbians Don't Face Workplace Discrimination

Sprigg: "I Don't Think There's Any Particular Evidence" Gays Are Subject To Employment Discrimination. According to host Janet Mefferd and Sprigg:

MEFFERD: See, now here's my question. Is there some problem that they have stats to back up that, for example, your sexual orientation is preventing thousands of people across the country from getting meaningful employment? It doesn't seem to me that there's a crisis that would warrant brand new legislation other than the desire to continue the push for the broader spectrum of LGBT rights.

I mean, I saw a tweet by the Human Rights Campaign, it's like, "Here's the next step." That seems to be really the issue, not so much that there's a crisis of people who identify as homosexuals not getting jobs.

SPRIGG: That's the interesting thing, is that because sexual orientation is essentially an invisible characteristic, there's actually no way for someone to, especially if you're just talking about someone's sexual attractions - as opposed to their sexual conduct or their self-identification - which are actually three separate aspects of sexual orientation - but just in terms of their experiencing same-sex attraction, there's no way for an employer to know that that's the case, unless they're told that by [an employee]. So even if an employer wanted to discriminate on that basis it would be rather difficult for them to do it.

So I do think that this is something - and the vast majority of employers, just ordinary, secular employers, who are not doing anything to do with religion, they're not trying to make any moral points, they're just trying to produce a product - you know, manufacturing widgets or whatever - they're not gonna have any reason to discriminate and they're not likely to. So as you said, I don't think there's any particular evidence that homosexuals are, you know, being denied jobs on a widespread basis. [The Janet Mefferd Show7/17/13]

Reality: Employment Discrimination Is A Persistent Problem

Williams Institute: LGBT Employees Encounter "Widespread Discrimination." According to a July 2011 report by UCLA's Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy:


[T]his research shows that widespread and continuing employment discrimination against LGBT people has been documented in scientific field studies, controlled experiments, academic journals, court cases, state and local administrative complaints, complaints to community-based organizations, and in newspapers, books, and other media. Federal, state, and local courts, legislative bodies, and administrative agencies and [sic] have acknowledged that LGBT people have faced widespread discrimination in employment. Research shows that discrimination against LGBT people has negative impact in terms of health, wages, job opportunities, productivity in the workplace, and job satisfaction. [Williams Institute, July 2011]

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