The First Amendment Defense Act, recently proposed by Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), aims to negate anti-discrimination laws under the guise of religious freedom.
The bill would allow individuals or organizations to discriminate against married same-sex couples, among others, without penalty from the federal government (such as the denial of grants, loans, employee benefits, or tax deductions), as long as they can make the case that they are following their religious beliefs. For example, a federally-funded homeless shelter could turn away an LGBTQ person without fear of losing funding. The bill would also allow lawsuits to be filed on behalf of organizations or individuals who feel they have been forced to approve of same-sex marriages.
Many moral or religious objections are considered fair game under the legislation’s broad and vague wording. Those who believe that “sexual relations are properly reserved to” opposite-sex married couples could discriminate against unmarried or single mothers. Versions of this bill have been around since 2013, and while its premise has been gaining support since the legalization of same-sex marriage this past June, the First Amendment Defense Act is expected to fail.