If there were any doubts about where the Republican Party officially stands on the question of LGBT rights, its recent action settles it. On August 14, the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution supporting strongly anti-LGBT legislation. The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was designed specifically to prevent the federal government from taking any “adverse action” against individuals or organizations for discriminating against LGBT individuals on the basis of religious belief. “Adverse action” is given an uncommonly broad definition in the bill, covering everything from imposing tax penalties to refusing contracts, grant awards or employment.
The bill, which also allows individuals and organizations that have discriminated against LGBT individuals to sue the federal government for monetary damages, was introduced specifically in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the widely celebrated civil rights decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
MSNBC reports that as of August 19, FADA had amassed 145 co-sponsors in the House (including one Democrat). A companion bill in the Senate garnered 36 co-sponsors. Since then, four more Congressional Republicans have added their names to the list. Whether FADA will gain additional support remains to be seen, but it is extremely unlikely that the bill’s co-sponsors could collect a veto-proof majority in either chamber. To begin with, the bill allows private citizens to sue the government, something the government tends to look on with tremendous disfavor. Furthermore, the bill would likely bog down the government in litigation.
If it were to pass, according to LGBT Weekly, FADA “would permit a federal employee, for example, to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk. This legislation would also permit recipients of federal grants and contracts . . . to turn away LGBT people.” Essentially, the legislation incentivizes the Kim Davises of the world to discriminate against LGBT people.
Be careful what you legislate for…
But FADA is more insidious than, perhaps, even its authors intended. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) condemned FADA when it was introduced in July, calling it “disingenuous” and pointing out that the law “would allow any individual, group, or
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