Clinton's office sounds a more sympathetic note, offering to make improvements as the Senate committee considers the legislation. "We've heard the concerns raised, and we've responded," says Reines, her spokesperson.
Civil rights advocates can only hope that both senators are listening. Already, they've begun circulating an alternative they think better balances the rights of religious employees and everyone else. One of those activists is Aaron Schuham, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He argues that Clinton and Kerry could please religious voters without selling out core principles: "The political gains in showing that people are friendly to the needs of religious people could be accomplished by a compromise bill that would not endanger civil and personal rights."