In 2015, the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges held that the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize their marriages.
Yet, some still seek to allow businesses, government officials, and taxpayer-funded organizations to use religion as a way to undermine this fundamental right to marry and discriminate against same-sex couples. We oppose these efforts because the religious views of business owners, public servants, and government contractors do not entitle them to deny same-sex couples the ability to marry, the goods and services they seek, or the dignity they deserve.
Federal and state legislators have introduced a wide variety of bills that undermine marriage equality. The most common categories include:
- Government Employees—These bills would allow government employees and officials to withhold marriage licenses, refuse to solemnize weddings, or otherwise block recognition of some or all marriages. Check out our talking points here.
- Wedding Services—These bills would allow private businesses and individuals to refuse to provide goods and services for all weddings or only to certain couples.
Penalties for Recognizing Marriage: These bills would require firing of or pay cuts for government officials and employees who follow the Constitution and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.
- First Amendment Defense Acts (FADAs) — Also known as FADAs, these are based on a federal bill that would allow private businesses, federal contractors and grantees, and even government employees to discriminate against same-sex couples, unmarried couples, people who have remarried, single mothers, those who have had sex outside of marriage, and others. Some state bills are narrower or broader than the federal FADA; however, all of these bills seek to sanction discrimination, allowing individuals and entities to ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs about marriage. See more about FADAs here.
- Pastor Protection Acts— Generally, these bills prohibit the state from requiring clergy and religious institutions to perform marriages for same-sex or other couples if such marriages conflict with their religious beliefs. Some Pastor Protection Acts, however, are more expansive and would also allow commercial entities owned or run by religious organizations to refuse to provide any wedding related services to couples whose marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs. See more about clergy and marriage equality here.
- Nullification of Marriage Equality: These bills would defy the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution by declaring that the state will recognize only marriages between one man and one woman.
Changing The State's Role In Marriage: These bills would eliminate or reduce the state’s role in licensing or solemnizing marriages.
To find out more about bills in the states, check out our Legislation Tracker:
Our lawyers are litigating a range of cases involving marriage equality and discrimination against same-sex couples. Read more about these cases.
Here's what you should know about why it's important to oppose FADA legislation and refusals of marriage licenses to same-sex couples by government officials.