Marriage conscience legislation languishes in Congress
By Jonathan Imbody | April 21, 2016
Excerpted from "After 300 Days and 164 Cosponsors, Bill to Protect Religious Liberty Stuck in Congress," The Daily Signal, April 12, 2016 - After almost a year, a bill designed to safeguard religious liberty has gained significant support but little momentum in the House of Representatives.
With 164 cosponsors, the First Amendment Defense Act is a popular piece of legislation in Congress. Still, that popularity hasn’t provided the elevation needed for the bill to advance out of committee, let alone into law. Across the country, similar legislation has been proposed at the state level, sparking significant controversy. On April 5, Mississippi signed a religious liberty bill into law, while similar legislation was vetoed by Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
The act would prohibit federal discrimination against individuals or organizations based on their support for marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The bill would bar the Internal Revenue Service, for example, from stripping a nonprofit of its tax-exempt status over the organization’s views on same-sex marriages.
Soon after the bill was introduced, Sarah Warbelow of Human Rights Campaign described it as part of “an extreme agenda designed to harm LGBT families under the guise of religious freedom.” Since the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage last year, conservatives have been pushing for conscience laws at both the state and national levels.
CMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: “If the battle for marriage ‘equality’ was ever about toleration and diversity, it isn’t anymore. The goal now is to enforce the new, government-mandated ideology in a way that marginalizes, demonizes and punishes dissenters.
“Actually, wielding power to punish those whose beliefs depart from popular opinion is nothing new in American culture or politics. It is the reason why lawmakers passed and states ratified the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Back in the day (18th century America), minority groups like Baptists and Catholics, not to mention homosexuals or transgender individuals, faced discrimination and worse from both the culture and the government. So our wise founders, having risked their lives and fortunes to protect individual freedom against coercive governmental force, enacted the First Amendment. This first freedom strongly restrains governmental power in order to protect individual freedom of thought and action:
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’
“The pointed focus of the First Amendment is to protect individuals from government pressure and punishment. Americans are to be free not only to believe what we choose to believe, but also to act publicly on those beliefs. A law protecting mere freedom of belief is pointless; no government can regulate thought. What matters is the freedom to express our convictions by our actions.
“These principles have been lost, tragically, in the drive to force everyone to bow down to the brand new view of marriage sponsored by the Supreme Court in the Obergefell same-sex marriage mandate. That’s why Congress now urgently needs to pass the First Amendment Protection Act.
“Without such protections, eventually no physician will be able to counsel patients or practice medicine in a way consistent with faith convictions regarding marriage without risking license, certification and career. Already, family businesses that have declined to provide services that violate religious convictions have been punished with heavy government fines and loss of business. The movement that once heralded tolerance, having gained cultural and government sanction, now aims to mercilessly quash all dissent.
“The First Amendment Defense Act (HR 2802) would prevent any federal government agency from discriminating against individuals, organizations and businesses because of their beliefs about marriage. Please consider taking a minute to follow the link below and let your legislators know your support for this important conscience legislation. Thank you.”
Protect Marriage Believers from Govt. Discrimination - use our convenient, pre-written Freedom2Care form to support the First Amendment Defense Act (HR 2802)