The return of the First Amendment Defense Act
Just when you thought the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) had been relegated to the dustbin of history, it’s back– and it looks like it’s going to be centerpiece of the Trump administration.
Last week, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah pushed the FADA bill that would allow private individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds.
An earlier version of this bill– sponsored by Lee and Republican Senator Raul Labrador of Idaho– first came out in 2015 during the Obama administration but never advanced from the committee level.
However, the two senators had promised to bring back this bill with the election of Trump.
The First Amendment Defense Act’s back!
This bill states that the Federal government can’t take “discriminatory action” against anyone who “speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” that marriage is between a man and woman.
It also protects those people who believe that “sexual relationship outside marriage are improper.”
This new version, which has the support of 21 GOP senators, will block federal moves to alter tax treatment, deny or reduce grants or contracts, and other actions against those who refuse service based on their views.
Lee defended the FADA bill in a statement on his website: “What an individual or organization believes about the traditional definition of marriage is not– and should never be– a part of the government’s decision-making process when distributing licenses, accreditations, or grants.”
Targeting the First Amendment Defense Act
Obviously, this is concerning as LGBTQ advocates noted that this would encourage businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community or heterosexual couples that have sex out of wedlock.
“The First Amendment Defense Act is harmful legislation that would legalize state-sanctioned discrimination and undermine key civil rights protections for LGBTQ people,” said David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s government affairs director, in a press release.
HRC cited as examples of possible discrimination denying federally mandated family leave to care for a same-sex spouse, or turning away people in same-sex marriages from homeless shelters.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted against the measure saying: “Families targeted by this bill could include same-sex married couples and their children, a single mother and her child, or an unmarried couple who are living together.”
It should be noted that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had expressed support for “religious freedom” legislation. However, he has yet to come out in support of this new bill.