U.S. Congress

‘Religious Freedom’ bill an effort ‘to reincarnate the Defense of Marriage Act’

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

WASHINGTON — A group of lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would “protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

Sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” purports to “protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” but in reality, would permit federal workers and recipients of federal grants and contracts, to refuse to serve married same-sex couples based on their personal religious beliefs about marriage.

The bill would also allow anyone the right to sue the federal government for monetary damages if he or she believes the federal government has discriminated against them based on their religious convictions regarding marriage for same-sex couples.

“The proponents of this legislation seek to reincarnate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and, in doing so, perpetuate discrimination against lawfully married same-sex couples and their children,” said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Gay and lesbian couples raise children, vote, and pay taxes just the same as everyone else, but this legislation would allow these couples to be treated differently based on who they are, giving a free pass to federal workers, recipients of taxpayer-funded grants and contracts, and others to discriminate against lawfully married couples,” said Thompson.

If passed, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would permit a federal worker processing tax returns, approving visa applications or reviewing Social Security applications to walk away from their responsibilities whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appeared on his or her desk, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

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It would also allow a federally-funded homeless shelter or substance abuse treatment program to turn away LGBT people.

“The purpose of the legislation introduced today is simply to let federal employees, contractors and grantees refuse to do their jobs or fulfill the terms of their taxpayer-funded contracts because they have a particular religious view about certain lawfully-married couples – and then to sue the federal government for damages if they don’t get their way,” said HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)

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