The latest News from UUA Advocacy and Witness ,"Act Now to Pass the Employment Non Discrimination Act!", does just that when it says, "...it shows our elected officials that as Unitarian Universalists, we stand on the side of love for equality AND religious freedom.", and "ENDA's opponents say that it interferes with their religious freedom, but we know that this is not true." It IS true, it DOES interfere with their religious freedom.
For many Christians- especially the more fundamental ones most likely to be affected by this act- the term "religious institutions" is not limited to a church or a church bookstore. The law may make a distinction between a bakery owned and staffed by Christians and a monastery whose monks bake bread, but they do not- they take "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name" seriously. The government may say the banner on the wall of the construction company that says, "Everything we do is dedicated to the greater glory of God" is mere decoration, but they do not. They do not compartmentalize their faith from the rest of their lives; they believe that religion is not just for Sunday in just this building, but something they must live every moment.
Perhaps the people who wrote that advocacy letter are unaware of this, despite being college graduates working in a religious institution, but my Congressman, being Muslim, is well aware of it, as are both my Senators. Were I to take that tack in a letter to them, they would presume it to be just another email generated letter from a special interest group... which, in fact, it would be; and they'd know that if my name is in their Farley Files, and it might be as I've met all three of them.
Much of what I hear in church, and much of what I read from bloggers and the UUA tells me that many UUs have never studied and don't really understand their Christian neighbors. They lecture Christians over social justice issues, assert "truths" that Christians know ain't so. I often feel like beginning every such discussion by quoting Benjamin Franklin from 1776: "These men, no matter how much we may disagree with them, they are not ribbon clerks to be ordered about - they are proud, accomplished men, the cream of their colonies. And whether you like them or not, they and the people they represent will be part of this new nation that YOU hope to create. Now, either learn how to live with them, or pack up and go home! In any case, stop acting like a Boston fishwife."
Far better to argue from the truth- yes, this is an infringement of your rights- but none of our rights are absolute. Freedom of speech and press have restrictions, ranging from shouting "fire" to McCain-Feingold. Freedom of assembly is restricted by the requirement of permits. And freedom of religion has restrictions, too; we forbid human sacrifice, even when voluntary; we forbid the use of certain drugs, we require parents to get medical care for their children. Rights are an always fluid balancing act between the individual and the compelling interests of society- and at this time, the balance must be drawn here, for these reasons... Don't tell him "all seriously religious people agree..." (as our previous president was wont to do), because he knows it isn't true.
Honesty really is the best policy. Even if you don't win the first round, you'll win respect, and your words will gain weight in the process. Acting like politicians will only get you the same respect that politicians get- surely we want more than that.
Addendum: CC's comment shows that some clarification of the Christian opposition to ENDA is in order. Many Christians believe that someone who is actively homosexual cannot be a Christian. Homosexual desires, they feel, are a temptation of Satan; one is not responsible for such temptations- ask Job. But acting on those temptations is a conscious decision. Therefore, an active homosexual who feels no remorse and has no intention of trying to change, is unrepentant and cannot be Christian. Therefore, the owner of a Christian company, who has dedicated his endeavors as a testimony to how one can succeed by living God's word feels he cannot hire a homosexual. (this describes many of my former customers) He feels his rights of free association and freedom of religion are abridged by being forced to hire non-Christians. He feels that if the courts have found otherwise since 1968, it only means that the courts have been wrong since 1968.
He is right- it is an abridgement of his rights. It simply isn't rational to say that the freedom of association doesn't mean you can decide who to associate with, or that the freedom of religion doesn't mean you can use your religion beliefs in the exercise of your freedom of association. But, as I noted above, we abridge rights all the time in the public interest. My position is that by getting a business license, society has granted him certain rights and privileges, such as the ability to buy wholesale, to not pay sales tax on most items, etc. He has become a public institution, and owes society certain favors in return- such as complying with anti-discrimination laws. The price of the right to discriminate is to forfeit the special advantages and privileges of a public institution.
I do not know if this was the reasoning in the 1968 decision that said employers may not discriminate on the grounds of religion. If it was, then the court admitted that it was interfering with the right of free association and free exercise of religion, and I agree with the court; it was a balance between individual rights and society's needs. ENDA would be a further abridgement of those rights; justified, yes, but still an abridgement. If the courts ruled that there was no right of free association in the first place, then they came to the right decision via the wrong path. It wouldn't be the first time.