In the past few months, we've talked a lot about state legislatures using religion to deny rights and equality to others. Now it appears members in the United States Congress want to take their turn. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment that would require all federal agencies to sanction taxpayer funded hiring discrimination in their contracts and grants. Now we hear the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee is planning to hold a hearing on a bill that specifically targets the LGBT community for discrimination.
Considering the backlash this legislation has caused in the states, it is surprising to see Congress inviting more bad press and likely prompting even lower approval ratings.
According to the Washington Blade, the House committee is planning a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). As introduced, FADA would “prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
The bill sponsors claim to have narrowed the bill , but their attempts are not close to good enough: It is impossible to fix a bill when its goal is to sanction discrimination. Even under the amended version of the bill, for example, federal contractors and grantees could take taxpayer funds to perform vital social services—like running a homeless shelter or working with at-risk youth—and yet refuse to serve same-sex couples and their families, single mothers, or anyone who has had sex outside or marriage.
One organization has dedicated its resources to pressuring congressional leaders to hold a hearing on the legislation, using office technology that is as outdated as the notion that LGBT Americans shouldn’t be treated fairly and equally.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) established its "Fax for FADA" campaign in April, urging supporters to sign a petition telling Republican leadership and House Oversight & Reform Committee members to take up FADA immediately. Signing the online petition then triggers...you guessed it...a fax with the same message to be sent to Congress.
The Republican leadership and committee members must be tickled by the alliterative campaign name or just excited for a reason to keep their office fax machines in working order (that is, besides potentially receiving escape plans from a hijacked Air Force One). Either way, it seems like FADA will get a hearing soon.
(And you can stay up-to-date on all legislation that uses religion to discriminate, both State and Federal, with our Legislation Tracker.)