Donald Trump pledges to sign anti-LGBTQ ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

Donald Trump

Donald Trump AP Photo/Cheryl Senter

Donald Trump has been courting the LGBTQ vote throughout this presidential election, claiming he would be the better choice for the community than opponent Hillary Clinton and promising to protect us from terrorism in his Republican National Convention speech.

That argument gets harder to believe by the week, as he gives speeches at anti-LGBTQ events, sticks up for homophobic and transphobic legislation and surrounds himself with bigoted politicians and advisers. Now we have a new offense to add to the list.

Trump has pledged to sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), if passed by congress. It was first introduced in the House on June 17, 2015 and would effectively legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination across the board, including among employers, businesses, landlords and healthcare providers, as long as they claim to be motivated by a firmly held religious beliefs.

It would act to overturn the executive order signed in 2014 by President Obama prohibiting anti-LGBTQ discrimination among federal contractors.

The statement, added to Trump’s website on Thursday under the title “Issues Of Importance To Catholics” and the subtitle “Religious Liberty,” reads:

Religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is our first liberty and provides the most important protection in that it protects our right of conscience. Activist judges and executive orders issued by Presidents who have no regard for the Constitution have put these protections in jeopardy. If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths. The Little Sisters of the Poor, or any religious order for that matter, will always have their religious liberty protected on my watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs.

FADA’s text reads:

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.

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