A proposed federal law that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people has received support from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was announced in January and re-introduced earlier this month. The bill would allow people acting on “a sincerely held religious belief” to avoid discrimination protections and civil rights laws.
FADA earned the support of USCCB on Thursday, who said they will continue to protect “the natural truth of marriage.”
“FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” the statement said, adding, “The Church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination.”
The First Amendment Defense Act has gained criticism from many opponents, including the ACLU, who called it “taxpayer-funded discrimination.”
“Whatever the sponsors of this shameful legislation may say, this is a blatant example of using religion as a justification to discriminate, and the ACLU will fight to make sure it never becomes law,” Ian Thompson, ACLU’s legislative representative, said.
At present, the bill states: “The Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman.”
The bill was spearheaded by Senator Mike Lee and has 22 Republican senators attached to it, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
In addition, the bill allows discrimination protections for those who believe sexual relations should be reserved for marriage and could also discriminate against heterosexual individuals who engage in extramarital sex.
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.
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