Metro Weekly

GOP congressmen to reintroduce anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act

Trump previously promised to sign bill targeting LGBT people

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador – Photo: U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has announced that he will reintroduce the anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act to the House.

Labrador’s actions echo comments in December by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has promised to introduce a Senate version of FADA.

A threat to the LGBT community, the act would provide special legal protections for people who wish to discriminate against LGBT people because of a sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage.

The legislation protects people who hold certain beliefs: 1) that marriage should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, and 2) that sexual relations should be reserved for marriage.

Based on those beliefs, the bill would essentially legalize discrimination against same-sex couples, even those who are legally married.

The person holding the religious beliefs could also discriminate against heterosexual individuals who engage in extramarital sex. For example, were the act to be enforced, a pharmacist could cite religious beliefs to justify denying an unmarried woman access to contraception such as birth control or the morning-after pill.

According to BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden, other House and Senate members plan to refile bills that carve out special exemptions for people — including businesses or religious organizations — who object to same-sex marriage.

The law would also prevent the government from penalizing or attempting to deny special tax incentives and credits to those who discriminate against LGBT people.

President Donald Trump promised to sign FADA during his presidential campaign. At the time, several LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, bristled at the prospect of such a law, citing it as one of the many reasons they opposed Trump.

Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who will oversee the Department of Justice, has defended FADA as a necessary measure to protect the rights of people — including corporations or religious organizations — who object to homosexuality or same-sex marriage.

Sessions said the law is needed to balance out the rights of people who hold such views and those who support LGBT rights.

“I do not see freedom as a zero-sum game,” Sessions told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in a written response to questions probing his support for FADA. “I understand the critical and historic role of Department of Justice in upholding our nation’s civil rights laws. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as Attorney General, I will enforce those laws to the letter.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com