Right Hooks

Setting the Record Straight on Religious Liberty

The First Amendment Defense Act is not what leftists claim it is.

Culture Beat · Jul. 13, 2016

The purpose of the First Amendment Defense Act, according to the bill’s description, is to ban “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.” It’s no wonder then Democrats are making what The Daily Signal’s Roger Severino and William Wolfe say are “stunning claims about the bill both orally and in written remarks” in an effort to derail the bill.

Here are Severino’s and Wolfe’s counterpoints to six wrongful assertions:

Claim 1: The bill is cover for discrimination against LGBT people.

Reality: This claim is rebutted by simply stating what the bill actually does — it prevents the federal government from discriminating against individuals and institutions that follow their beliefs about marriage and what it entails. …

Claim 2: FADA prevents enforcement of every single federal law that imposes a “penalty” … if the person being penalized can claim they are acting out of a belief about marriage.

Reality: The word penalty appears only once in FADA and in a paragraph dealing exclusively with taxation because FADA only prevents discriminatory imposition of tax penalties, not every penalty in federal law. …

Claim 3: FADA allows businesses to deny employee benefits for same-sex partners in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and employment discrimination laws.

Reality: … As illustrated by the Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court, business owners should not be forced by government to give up their religious beliefs and convictions in order to earn a living. FADA furthers this important right by protecting businesses in limited contexts … while leaving our landmark civil rights laws untouched.

Claim 4: FADA protects state clerks who want to opt out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses to gay people.

Reality: FADA does not cover state government employees, so state clerks are not protected. …

Claim 5: Under FADA, federal contractors would be able to deny certain government-funded benefits under Title X, such as contraception, to a person because they enter into a same-sex marriage.

Reality: … FADA specifies that for-profit contractors cannot deny services to anyone required to be served under the terms of a federal contract. Additionally, where protection is provided, as with religious nonprofits, FADA does not relieve the federal government of any obligation to deliver government benefit or services “either directly or through a person not seeking protection under this act.” …

Claim 6: Under FADA, a hospital could deny visitation rights to people in same sex-marriages.

Reality: FADA states that it does not apply to any “hospital, clinic, hospice, nursing home, or other medical or residential custodial facility with respect to visitation, cognition of a designated representative for health care decision-making, or refusal to provide medical treatment necessary to cure an illness or injury.” It doesn’t get any clearer.

The Constitution is already structured to protect religious liberty, but leftists have distorted it to mean whatever they want it to mean. They’re doing the same thing to a proposed statue that would more directly protect men and women of faith.

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