President Ragsdale Urges a Yes Vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

November 5, 2013 (Cambridge, MA) -- Episcopal Divinity School President and Dean Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, along with 10 other seminary presidents from across the nation, has signed a letter in support of S. 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). If enacted, the bill would provide protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The letter has been sent to the U.S. Senate, which has already voted to pass the bill, and to the House of Representatives as that body prepares to take up the legislation.

Seminary Presidents Urge a Yes Vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

November 5, 2013

Dear Senator,

We are writing to urge your support of S. 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

As seminary presidents, we are well aware that there are many perspectives within communities of faith regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. There is no single religious point of view on this matter; conversations about sexuality and gender are continuing among us as people of faith. Many spiritual communities welcome LGBT people as congregants, clergy, and employees, while others do not. However, fairness and protection from discrimination in secular employment should be a fundamental protection and value that all should affirm.

We believe, like the majority of Americans, that employees should be judged by the work that they do and should not have to suffer harassment, firing, or demotion simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This is a matter of fundamental fairness and justice.

ENDA offers broad religious protections for communities of faith to make their own individual decisions regarding hiring practices, while ensuring that secular workplaces offer a level playing field to all. We believe that this offers the greatest freedom to all involved—to communities of faith to act according to their principles and to Americans who will be able to go to work without fear of discrimination based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identities.

We thank you for your support of this important legislation. 

Sincerely, 

Dr. Lee Barker, President and Professor of Ministry, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, IL

The Rev. Dr. Nick Carter, President, Andover Newton Theological School, Andover Newton, MA

The Rev. Dr. David M. Greenhaw, President, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO

The Rev. Dr. Alice Hunt, President, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL

Dr. Carol Lytch, President, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA

The Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald, President, Professor of Faith and Public Life, San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA

Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend, President, Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK

Dr. Riess W. Potterveld, Acting President, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA

The Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

The Rev. Stephen L. Sterner, President, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA

The Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, Dean, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN