Anti-LGBT Bill ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ Scheduled for July 12 HearingBy Adam Polaski • June 28, 2016 • 2:14 pm
Today, a sweeping piece of discriminatory legislation that would allow businesses and government contractors to deny services to LGBT people was scheduled for a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) will hold a hearing on the deceptively titled First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) on July 12.
FADA (S. 1598/H.B. 2802) was originally introduced in Congress last year – and this hearing on July 12 is the first movement we’ve seen since then.
The House hearing comes on the heels of many states closing out their legislative sessions – and in nearly every state, lawmakers considered more than 200 bills specifically seeking to single out LGBT Americans for discrimination. Last month, House lawmakers passed a vaguely written measure that would likely upend President Obama’s executive order extending LGBT nondiscrimination protections to employees of federal contractors. That measure, attached to a defense appropriations bill, must be addressed in an upcoming conference committee with Senate lawmakers.
Freedom for All Americans Executive Director Matt McTighe said today:
“It’s stunning that some lawmakers in Congress continue to prioritize legislation that promotes discrimination against the LGBT community. This out-of-touch legislation does nothing to strengthen the existing protections for religious freedom – all this bill does is make it even easier to discriminate against LGBT people. Americans overwhelmingly support treating LGBT people fairly and equally under the law, and this bill intentionally undermines that very value.”
Here are just a few examples of how FADA would allow for taxpayer-funded discrimination:
- Much of President Obama’s amended Executive Order 11246, which protects LGBT employees of federal contractors from job discrimination, would be left unenforceable. The Williams Institute estimates the executive order protects an additional 16.5 million employees.
- A government contractor could fire an employee with a strong performance record after executives learn that employee recently married his partner of the same sex.
- A school that receives federal funding could fire a teacher it suspects of having a premarital sexual relationship with her longtime boyfriend.
- A federal government employee could refuse to process a claim, benefit or service to which a married same-sex couple is entitled under federal law, and to which the United States Supreme Court has held the couple is fully entitled under the Constitution.
The U.S. Congress should not be considering bills specifically designed to roll back protections and codify discrimination against LGBT people – in fact, what’s needed is real, measured consideration of affirmative protections, like those provided by the Equality Act, to extend comprehensive non-discrimination protections to LGBT people nationwide.
Visit Freedom for All Americans’ Action Center for the First Amendment Defense Act at www.