Federal Legislation that Provides License to Discriminate Would Turn Back the Clock on LGBT Equality

July 15, 2015 • 4:10 pm

Legislation in Congress could strip critical workplace nondiscrimination protections from millions of Americans

Dan Rafter | [email protected] | 202-251-7308

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) are continuing to push a discriminatory bill that would make it easier to legally discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is a broadly written bill that would allow individuals and organizations to discriminate against millions of Americans—including LGBT people, single mothers, unmarried couples, same-sex couples and others—based on their marital status.

“This bill does nothing to advance religious freedom, but it does attack the economic well-being of LGBT Americans all across this country,” said Matt McTighe, Freedom for All Americans campaign manager. ““Every American should have the freedom to live their lives without fear of discrimination. At a time when a supermajority of Americans want to move forward with comprehensive protections for their LGBT friends and loved ones, it’s disheartening to see that some lawmakers are still aggressively pushing legislation that singles out hardworking Americans for harm.”

The Lee-Labrador bill would mean that:

  • 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.
  • An employer could refuse to grant FMLA leave for an employee to care for her same-sex spouse, even though the two are legally married.
  • 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.

Small business owners also reject this type of discriminatory legislation. A poll released earlier this week from Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization that works with 40,000 small business owners across the U.S., found that two-thirds of small business owners don’t believe businesses should be able to deny goods or services to LGBT people based on religious beliefs. In addition, nearly 70 percent of Americans – including 65 percent of Republicans – support comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people; according to a recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute.

“One of the biggest lessons from Indiana is that the American people, and the businesses of all sizes that drive our economies, don’t support these types of misleading bills,” added McTighe. “They see legislation like this for what it truly is – a blatant attempt to make life harder for those already vulnerable to discrimination. Freedom for All Americans is committed to continuing the work of advancing bills that build up all Americans rather than tear us down.”

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign dedicated to ensuring every gay and transgender American is fully protected from discrimination under the law, no matter where they live. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses big and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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