July 23, 2015

USCCB on the First Amendment Defense Act


The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has published a PDF explaining the First Amendment Defense Act. It answers questions about the act and its necessity, such as:

What would the First Amendment Defense Act do?

The First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802, S. 1598) would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their religious beliefs or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. The Act provides broad protections against adverse federal actions directed toward individuals and organizations that act on such beliefs.

What are some examples of how such individuals and organizations would be protected?

The Act would prohibit the federal government from denying or revoking a nonprofit entity’s tax-exempt status. It would also prohibit the federal government from denying or excluding an individual or organization from a federal grant, contract, or employment. Indeed, the Act would bar any discrimination by the federal government against individuals or organizations based upon their religious belief or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. The Act would also require the federal government to consider accredited any entity that failed to be accredited because of a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

Who would the Act protect?

Importantly, the First Amendment Defense Act would protect a wide array of persons, including individuals and organizations – both for-profits and non-profits – regardless of whether or not they are religiously affiliated. Thus, business owners as well as faith communities would be protected.

Why is the First Amendment Defense Act needed?

The Act is needed because of growing intolerance toward religiously-minded individuals and organizations who want to live by their conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. There are increasing reports of individuals and organizations holding such beliefs being targeted for discrimination by state governments. This bill would prevent the federal government from engaging in similar discrimination.

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