Policy Spotlight: First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)

Senator Ted Cruz (R- Texas) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) plan to reintroduce the First Amendment Defense Act, feeling that the incoming Trump administration and current political climate will give it the edge it needs to pass.

This bill “prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against people who believe or act in accordance with their religious or moral convictions that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such marriages”. These discriminatory actions include:

  • Altering federal tax treatment
  • Disallowing a deduction of a charitable contribution
  • Withholding, reducing or terminating a federal grant, contract, loan, employment, etc.
  • Withholding, reducing, excluding or terminating any federal benefit.

In addition, this bill not only requires that the federal government employ people regardless of their moral/religious convictions of same-sex marriage for any job, but also permits a person to cite this act in any judicial or administrative proceeding. Lastly, this bill protects everyone—government, for-profit, and nonprofit employees alike.

Ultimately, this bill provides special protections for people and organizations that would openly discriminate or withhold services from certain members of the public. While the FADA obviously provides solace for those who have struggled with the Supreme Court declaring same-sex marriage Constitutional, the bill’s broad language also permits discrimination towards other sexual acts outside of marriage—most notably, single mothers who are generally protected by federal law.

Both groups have received a multitude of discrimination in recent years. For example, in a series of cases that captivated national attention, single mothers were fired from their teaching positions. While those women were working at religiously affiliated schools where the Supreme Court has granted protection from certain discrimination lawsuits, the FADA will extend those protections to anyone—government or private employee. Another example includes a series of cases during the late 2000s where wedding-affiliated businesses – i.e. photographers, bakeries, bed and breakfasts, flower shops, and banquet halls—refused to service same-sex couples due to moral convictions that same sex relationships were wrong. Lastly, the FADA will allow government officials—judges, clerks, social workers, etc.— to reject or refuse to recognize marriage between same-sex couples without consequence.

The FADA will do nothing to protect the rights of those communities who are traditionally marginalized by mainstream society; alternatively, it will fight for the employment and livelihood of those that intend to victimize them and uphold bigotry. It is important that as a society, we do not allow the declaration of an open season upon these groups. Instead, let us work together against the FADA and hold our elected officials accountable to ensure that this continues to be an America where everyone’s rights are protected. Find out more information at http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/why-you-should-oppose-the-first-amendment-defense-act/

“Never be content to sit back and watch as others’ rights are trampled upon. Your rights could be next.”

― DaShanne Stokes

 

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