FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON -- In a move that both showcases the problem of workplace discrimination in America and the constitutional flaws of campaign finance legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union today began running a series of radio and newspapers issue ads that would be outlawed under a campaign finance bill likely to soon become law.
The advertisements are running in the Chicago media market and urge Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who represents a suburban Chicago district, to use his position to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to a full vote in the House.
"This is a dramatic double play," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington National Office. "Not only have we highlighted the urgency of making employment non-discrimination a top priority in Congress, but the ads also demonstrate in practice how campaign finance legislation will effectively gag political speech."
The ACLU has long advocated a system of public financing as a means of increasing access to the political process without impinging on protected political speech. The ACLU's ad, which Murphy argued is both completely non-partisan and politically essential, is a perfect example of the beneficial political speech that would be silenced by the Shays-Meehan bill that the Senate is expected to take up on Monday.
The ads, because they are being broadcast during a 30-day window before a primary election, would be forbidden if the Senate passes and President Bush signs the Shays-Meehan bill. The ACLU has long been a vigorous opponent of the measure and its Senate counterpart, the McCain-Feingold bill, because they would curb political speech.
"Ironically, our radio ads would be outlawed by the bill," Murphy said, "but our virtually identical newspaper ads that are running on Monday would continue to be acceptable."
The ACLU said that passage of ENDA would guarantee that individuals could not be discriminated against in the workplace based on their real or perceived sexual orientation. The ads urge listeners and readers to visit the ACLU's website - http://archive.aclu.org/ENDA -- where they can learn more about the provisions of ENDA and send a free fax to Speaker Hastert urging action in the House on the proposed legislation.
"It's important to remember that the ACLU would not be the only group impacted by the new law," Murphy said. "This ad could just as easily be something from the NRA, Common Cause or the Right to Life Committee. The censorship in Shays-Meehan wouldn't be discriminating."