Marriage equality is the law of the land—no one can be denied the right to marry because of someone else’s religious beliefs. Yet, Congress and state legislatures are seeking to undermine the fundamental right to marriage and sanction discrimination against same-sex couples. One way they are trying to do this is through legislative proposals deceptively named the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). Generally, these sweeping bills would allow businesses, government officials, and taxpayer-funded organizations to ignore federal or state laws and policies that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage and sex. We oppose these bills because no one’s religious views entitle them to deny same-sex couples goods and services, the ability to marry, or the dignity they deserve.

Most FADAs are actually so broad, they would allow discrimination against not just same-sex couples but also unmarried couples, people who have remarried, single mothers, those who have sex outside of marriage, and others. 

The right to believe is fundamental; the right to discriminate—especially with taxpayer dollars—is not. 

Federal FADA

During the 2015-2016 legislative session, Congress introduced two FADA bills. HR 2802 and S 1598, as introduced, would have allowed private businesses, federal contractors and grantees, and even government employees to use their religious beliefs to justify discrimination. 

Information About The Federal FADA

Text of HR 2802

Text of S 1598

Letters and Testimony

Americans United's Testimony Opposing HR 2802

Coalition Letter Urging Cancellation of FADA Hearing

Letter From More Than 3,000 Faith Leaders Who Oppose FADA

Our Commentary

AU Executive Director Barry Lynn's Op-Ed in Religion News Service

FRC’s FADA Fade Away

Read Our First Amendment Defense Act House Committee Hearing Storify!

Not One, But Three: All Versions Of FADA Sanction Discrimination In The Name Of "Religious Liberty"

                                                                                                                               Congress Should Learn from FADA Backlash in the States

                                                                                                                               Federal FADA Hearing Set for July 12

 File Under: Troubling. Congress To Hold Hearing on  Unconstitutional Bill


FADA Legislation in the States

State FADA bills are based on the federal legislation, though some are narrower and some are broader. All of these bills seek to sanction discrimination, allowing individuals and entities to ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage. In 2016, a federal judge blocked Mississippi’s FADA, HB 1523, because it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Read some of the lessons learned by states considering or enacting FADA legislation.

Talking Points

Here's what you should know about why it's important to oppose FADA legislation.