Today is Constitution Day. This is when we celebrate the date, back in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia. Our Constitution is currently under attack by conservatives who really believe religion should trump the document of democracy and equality. We need to let our members of Congress know that this is a wrong move.
Back in June the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” was introduced:
The misnamed “First Amendment Defense Act” (HR 2802 and S 1598) would allow for legalized discrimination under the guise of religious freedom and have the federal government powerless to take action. The stated purpose of FADA is to protect the tax-exempt status, government contract, or any other Federal benefit of those whose religious beliefs tell them that marriage is between a man and a woman, or that sex is reserved for marriage. This act’s true impact would allow for sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their children – all under the guise of religious liberty. It would also eviscerate federal employment nondiscrimination laws by allowing individuals to discriminate against women who have children outside of marriage.
In case you think the text of the action alert from the Secular Coalition for America is hyperbole, here is the actual text of the House Bill 2802 which is exactly the same as the Senate version:
SEC. 3. Protection of the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions.
(a) In general.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.
And to add to the insult to this nation’s Bill of Rights, the proposed law includes:
SEC. 4. Judicial relief.
(a) Cause of action.—A person may assert an actual or threatened violation of this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other appropriate relief against the Federal Government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under Article III of the Constitution.
SEC. 6. Definitions.
In this Act:
(3) PERSON.—The term “person” means a person as defined in section 1 of title 1, United States Code, and includes any such person regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, and regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status.
Not only would this law allow for the discrimination toward married LGBT couples but could also be used by a religious conservative business owner to fire a woman who gets pregnant and isn’t married if his religion believes the woman to be a whore.
That’s why I found this bit in the text of the law laughable:
(5) Laws that protect the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions about marriage will encourage private citizens and institutions to demonstrate tolerance for those beliefs and convictions and therefore contribute to a more respectful, diverse, and peaceful society.
So passing the law that gives cover to religious people to be intolerant would “contribute to a more respectful, diverse, and peaceful society”?? Really?
Ah…. religious right logic at it again. Up is down – Black is white – war is peace – allowing discrimination is being tolerant.
It also gives religious people rights that others don’t have in being able to bring a lawsuit against the Federal government even if there is just a threat of a violation under this law. Most people have to prove an actual “injury” for a federal court to review it. You have to have your rights actually violated before bringing a suit. This law allows religious people to preempt laws that may not even “injure” them.
There are 148 co-sponsors of this bill in the House and more than half of the Senate is co-sponsoring a law that the people don’t want and isn’t needed.
And in the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses with her name affixed to them because of her opposition to same-sex marriage, more than six in 10 say she should be compelled to issue them.
Among those surveyed, 74 percent said that equality under the law should trump religious beliefs, while 19 percent said that one’s personal convictions are more important. Just 33 percent said that Davis should not be required to issue the licenses, compared with 63 percent who said that Davis should do so despite her religiously-based objections.
People are allowed to hate whoever they want, they just can’t discriminate against people they hate in business, providing services, or if they work in the government.
Churches and their religious enterprises are already covered under the 1st amendment from having to work with LGBT people.
“First Amendment Defense Act” is not doing what it claims to be doing.