Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on the Introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
June 24, 1999
On behalf of the 875 congregations of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the 1,800 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the 1.5 million Reform Jews across the nation, I am pleased to announce our full support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
This vital legislation would extend employment protections currently provided based on race, gender, and disability to sexual orientation, repairing the injustice that allows gay and lesbian Americans to suffer discrimination in the workplace.
Jewish tradition teaches us that all human beings are created b'tselem elohim -- in the divine image. As it says in Genesis 1:27, "And God created humans in God's own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them." Regardless of context, discrimination against any person arising from apathy, insensitivity, ignorance, fear, or hatred is inconsistent with this fundamental belief. We oppose discrimination against all individuals, including gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, for the stamp of the divine is present in each and every one of us.
The majority of the American public supports ENDA and equal rights for gays and lesbians in the workplace. Over 50% of Fortune 500 companies have policies consistent with ENDA, and ENDA has been endorsed by a wide variety of religious organizations, women's groups, labor unions, civil rights organizations, and businesses. We commend Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, and Lieberman, and Representatives Shays and Franks on their introduction of this important legislation and proudly join our voice with those of other Americans calling for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and for equality for all of God's children.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.