Today—one month after the deadly shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando—our U.S. House of Representatives are holding a hearing on the federal so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would give license to discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.
In a move that Representative Elijah Cummings called “tone deaf,” some lawmakers have ignored calls to cancel the hearing and are moving forward with testimony.
As debate plays out on the House floor, we bring you three facts about the so-called First Amendment Defense Act—and how it aims to restrict the freedoms of LGBT Americans under the guise of protecting religion.
- Freedom of Religion is already protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
We can all agree that religious liberty is one of the great, founding values of our country. That’s why it has been and always will be protected by the Constitution. The truth is, religious liberty is not at risk. That’s why more than 3,000 clergy have signed a letter opposing the so-called First Amendment Defense Act.
- The First Amendment Defense Act privileges the view of marriage between a man and woman, and permits people who hold that view to use it as an excuse to refuse service to same-sex or unmarried couples.
This means that federally funded religious organizations and non-profits (including hospitals, adoption agencies, homeless shelters, and domestic violence centers) could turn away LGBT youth, same-sex couples, or a single woman simply by citing their religious belief.
This is discriminatory. And in some case, this type of discrimination could be life-threatening.
- This legislation is widely unpopular.
Businesses, a bi-partisan group of lawmakers, and a majority Americans oppose FADA for the anti-LGBT discrimination that it promotes.
Georgia saw a near identical FADA bill introduced this year—and it failed. More than 500 businesses (including Disney, all of Atlanta’s sports teams, and General Electric) and 300+ faith leaders came out in staunch opposition to the bill.
And after several rounds of edits, Republican Governor Nathan Deal vetoed the legislation citing his own religious belief that we should treat others the way we want to be treated.
Meanwhile, Americans believe everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law. A vast majority of Americans (70%) and a majority of Georgians (57%) believe that when the need to treat all people equally under the law conflicts with someone’s beliefs, it’s more important to ensure that everyone is treated equally.
We stand with a majority Americans, national corporations, small businesses, the vast coalition of clergy, and our Republican Governor that religious freedom is important—but it should not be cited as grounds for discrimination.
Proponents of the discriminatory First Amendment Defense Act have claimed that no rights will be taken away under this legislation.
This may be true. It’s also true that, right now, LGBT Americans lack non-discrimination protections at the federal level, and at the state level in Georgia and in 31 other states across the country. It’s meaningless to say that FADA does not take away “rights” because, as of now, a majority of LGBT Americans lack any rights to be taken away.
LGBT people are our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. They want the same things that many other Americans do: To work hard, to build a family, and to live happily, free of the burden that they may be treated differently or denied services because of who they are or who they love.
Today, as people across the country continue to mourn the Orlando Pulse shootings and to reflect on the status of LGBT Americans in our society, it is important that we all consider the Golden Rule and strive to treat others as we wish to be treated—with tolerance and respect.SHARE THIS STORY