Protects Those Who Have 'A Sincerely Held Religious Belief or Moral Conviction' on Marriage
22 Republican U.S. Senators are co-sponsoring the reintroduction of a bill they claim is needed to "protect" the religious freedom of those who oppose same-sex marriage and sexual relations outside of one-man, one-woman marriage. The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was originally introduced in 2015 by Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, one of the first federal lawmakers to endorse Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate. (Lee later rescinded his support.)
Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are among the co-sponsors. President Trump has said he would sign the bill.
"The vast majority of Americans today still hold a robust view of religious liberty," Lee said in 2015, before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, "yet across the country the right of conscience is threatened by state and local governments that coerce, intimidate, and penalize individuals, associations, and businesses who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman."
In order to comply with federal law, Lee has had to alter the original bill's text, but its intention is still clear.
It adds in "two individuals as recognized under Federal law," but it also keeps "that sexual relations outside marriage are improper."
Here's the beginning of the bill's text:
"To ensure that the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman, or two individuals as recognized under Federal law, or that sexual relations outside marriage are improper."
In short, it still ensures people who oppose same-sex marriage are protected. It now in theory adds protections for those who support same-sex marriage, while "protecting" those whose religious or moral beliefs believe "sexual relations outside marriage are improper."
But Senator Lee in his statement Thursday makes clear his intention is to protect those who oppose same-sex marriage.
The First Amendment Defense Act "simply ensures...that federal bureaucrats will never have the authority to require those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage to choose between their living in accordance with those beliefs and maintaining their occupation or their tax status."
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license
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