This week Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Raúl Labrador (R-ID) introduced legislation aimed at defending religious freedom from government encroachment. The First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would bar the government from discriminating against those whose faith compels them to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In a press release, Senator Lee highlighted that religious liberty is the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. He stated, “The freedom to live and to act in accordance with the dictates of one’s conscience and religious convictions is integral to human flourishing.” However, warning that freedom was being threatened across the nation, he declared, “The First Amendment Defense Act is necessary to ensure that this kind of government excess never occurs at the federal level.”
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, applauded Sen. Lee and Rep. Labrador for their leadership and stated, “Whatever the Supreme Court rules on marriage in the days to come, there should be no controversy over an effort to prevent a heavy-handed government agent from targeting or coercing citizens whose religious belief is that marriage is the holy union of one man and one woman.”
Referencing U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s admission that the tax-exempt status of religious institutions would “be an issue” if “gay marriage” is deemed to be a constitutional right, Dr. Johnson noted, “Sadly, there is no question that this legislation is needed.”
The First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would bar the federal government from threatening the tax treatment, grant, contract, license, or certification of individuals or organizations that uphold their religious conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This legislation was introduced with 57 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 18 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: June 19, 2015