Legislation Introduced to Protect Religious Freedom in DC

Earlier this year, the District of Columbia City Council passed two laws that could spell trouble for religious organizations based in the nation’s capital.  Specifically, the District’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act could force religious or pro-life organizations headquartered in Washington to provide coverage for abortion under their employer health plans.  Additionally, DC’s Human Rights Amendment Act puts religious schools in the capital in a bind in their attempt to honor the tenets of their faith, specifically in the area of human sexuality. 

Under the Home Rule Act, Congress has 30 days to disapprove of laws passed by the DC City Council.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced legislation for just that purpose this week.  Senator Lankford declared, "What the DC Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for DC residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.” Senator Cruz added, "No government entity should be able to coerce organizations - whether they be non-profits or religious schools - into funding abortion services or promoting gender policy that is contrary to the organization's fundamental mission.”

By April 17, both houses of Congress must pass these bills and the President must sign them to prevent the DC laws from being enacted.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: March 20, 2015

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