Mitt Romney’s credentials as a social conservative took another blow on his recent “Meet the Press” appearance. And social conservatives are noticing.

According to this news report, Romney supports something like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) at the state level (precisely, he said the bill “makes sense” at that level). ENDA, which is currently making it’s way through Congress, would prohibit all employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The bill (rightly) has conservatives worried that religious organizations who are opposed to homosexuality may be required to hire homosexuals. All the social conservative heavyweights oppose the bill:

The federal ENDA bill is opposed by Christian heavyweights such as Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. of High Impact Leadership Coalition, Alan Sears of Alliance Defense Fund, the Rev. Rick Scarborough of Vision America, and Colin A. Hanna of Let Freedom Ring.

Mitt Romney’s position that the idea “makes sense” for states is worrisome. If federalism is the only reason Mitt Romney isn’t in favor of ENDA, then he’s clearly not in tune with the majority of the social conservative movement on the issue of homosexuality.

There is some force to the argument that if Romney supports liberal policies like this one at a state level, his credibility is damaged at a federal level. For all his understanding of the challenges abroad, it makes me wonder whether Mitt Romney understands the danger of losing their ability to govern themselves religious groups here at home face.  That would be surprising, given his knowledge of the Catholic Charities of Massachussetts decision to end their adoption services in light of state laws requiring them to place children with homosexual parents (a requirement contradicted by the Magesterium of the Church).

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Troubling. I can’t see how ENDA doesn’t nullify the 1st amendment’s right to “expressive associations” (as the Supreme Court calls them), where people have a right to assemble in religious affinity groups made up of those who share a common set of beliefs. ENDA would say that the right to employment somehow trumps the right to associate, and of course, the right of religious groups to be free from government control over their doctrines.

    I would hope that Romney, of all people, would see the problem.