The so-called and ironically named First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) makes two claims, 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 a marriage.”
Obviously, that’s not much of a basis for a defense of the First Amendment. But that’s not the real problem with the legislation.
The real problem is that the FADA would prohibit discriminating against anyone who discriminates against LGBT people. In other words, in the name of freedom, the FADA provides tyranny: carte blanche to anyone who wants to discriminate against a marginalized group in the name of freedom.
The FADA was sponsored by Rep. Labrador, Raul R. [R-ID-1] and Introduced in June 2015. It had 171 House Republican co-sponsors. It did not get further than a House hearing at the time. Everyone knew President Obama would veto it.
But now with the Religious Right’s “messiah” Donald Trump heading to the White House/Trump Tower, Sen. Ted Cruz and his fellow religious bigots figure they’ve got a lock on finally sticking it to the LGBT community. Hard.
This is the text of what can only be described as the establishment of religion, an act that is specifically forbidden by the First Amendment it pretends to protect:
First Amendment Defense Act
Prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction 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 a marriage.
Defines “discriminatory action” as any federal government action to discriminate against a person with such beliefs or convictions, including a federal government action to:
- alter the federal tax treatment of, cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed against, or deny, delay, or revoke certain tax exemptions of any such person;
- disallow a deduction of any charitable contribution made to or by such person;
- withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or otherwise deny any federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or similar position or status from or to such person; or
- withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or otherwise deny any benefit under a federal benefit program.
Requires the federal government to consider to be accredited, licensed, or certified for purposes of federal law any person who would be accredited, licensed, or certified for such purposes but for a determination that the person believes or acts in accordance with such a religious belief or moral conviction.
Permits a person to assert an actual or threatened violation of this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and to obtain compensatory damages or other appropriate relief against the federal government.
Authorizes the Attorney General to bring an action to enforce this Act against the Government Accountability Office or an establishment in the executive branch, other than the U.S. Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, that is not an executive department, military department, or government corporation.
Defines “person” as any person regardless of religious affiliation, including corporations and other entities regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status.
Trump did indeed vow to sign the bill in order to “protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.” Except Americans of all faiths do not support discriminating against people on the basis of the religious beliefs of some. Even their own.
Trump has had nothing to say on the matter since the election. It remains to be seen if he will stand by his support of the bill, or if like his comments on Hillary Clinton, they were designed only to secure him some votes.
Note that this legislation does not protect any other religious convictions. Like the religious conviction that it is okay for same-sex couples to marry.
Just as obviously, corporations were never meant to be included in the Founding Fathers’ definition of “We the People.” This is an ill-disguised attempt to establish religion and force all others to abide by that religion.
As Jennifer Pizer, Law and Policy Director at Lambda Legal, told NBC,
“This proposed new law violates both Equal Protection and the Establishment Clause by elevating one set of religious beliefs above all others,” Pizer said, “And by targeting LGBT Americans as a group, contrary to settled constitutional law.”
In a word, it gives tyranny in place of the promised freedom.