Senators Re-Introduce “Do No Harm Act” to Protect LGBTQ People From Discrimination

By Shane Stahl • May 23, 2018 • 4:05 pm

On Tuesday May 22, Democratic Senators re-introduced legislation known as the “Do No Harm Act,” which would amend the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people; the added language would state that RFRA does not protect the religious liberty of one person when the civil rights of another are violated.

While the law saw widespread legislative support upon introduction and signing in 1993, in recent years it has been cited as a justification for businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people by claiming their religious beliefs are being compromised or violated.

A similar issue currently sits before the U.S. Supreme Court — the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission concerns a bakery that refused service to a same sex couple using a religious claim. The court will soon issue its ruling, and as it considers what to do the Justices must consider our nation’s longstanding principle that businesses open to the public are #OpenToAll. In late 2017 Freedom For All Americans coordinated organizing efforts on  three amicus briefs to the Court from hundreds of business owners, faith leaders, and mayors who have definitively stated that businesses must be #OpentoAll.

The sponsors of the Senate bill arqe Mazie Hirono (HI) and Sens. Richard J. Durbin (IL); co-sponsors include Dianne Feinstein (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala D. Harris (CA), Patrick J. Leahy (VT), Edward J. Markey (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Bernie Sanders (VT), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Ron Wyden (OR).

“While our country was founded on the value of religious liberty, that freedom cannot come at the expense of others’ civil rights,” Sen. Hirono said in a statement.

Co-sponsor Kamala Harris also said in a statement:

“The freedom to worship is a founding principle of this nation as well as the right to live free of discrimination or fear that one’s civils rights will be undermined because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Do No Harm Act will ensure we protect both these rights for all.”

Other legislation pending before the U.S. Congress concerning LGBTQ Americans includes the Equality Act, which would expand nondiscrimination protections to include LGBTQ Americans, and the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act,’ introduced by opponents of LGBTQ equal treatment seeking to ease discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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