FRC’s FADA Fade Away

  Image by Getty Images

Image by Getty Images

We all know that in politics, sometimes people say one thing and mean another. It isn’t that often, though, that a group flip flops in a way that makes it so obvious.

Once upon a time (well, just a week ago), the Family Research Council (FRC) supported the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). FRC claimed this bill wouldn’t permit discrimination against same-sex couples and families (as we’ve explained, it does), but instead it just “reflects our nation’s history of recognizing, respecting and protecting the moral and religious beliefs of people and faith-based organizations.” Funny thing. Now that its sponsors have suggested amending the bill so that it, theoretically, could also be used to discriminate against opposite-sex couples, FRC has withdrawn its support. 

FADA is such a bad bill that the lawmakers who first introduced it have floated not one, but two, “fixes.” The damage control started right away and seems to be ongoing.  The first “fix” came shortly after introduction last year and the second came last week. The bill supporters might be floating this latest fake fix in an attempt to mitigate some of the bill’s long list of constitutional problems. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, a federal court blocked a similar Mississippi law, explaining in a 60-page ruling that it violated the Constitution in several different ways. 

As introduced, the bill permits almost anyone to ignore laws that conflict with their beliefs that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman and that sex should only take place within such a marriage. The most recent “fix” purports to expand the beliefs that fall under FADA.  Now anyone who believes marriage should be limited only to same-sex couples can also ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs. Yup, you read that right. We’ve been trying to figure out just who actually holds such a religious belief. Needless to say, we’ve found no one.  Yet, since the FADA fix, on paper, applies not just to those people who oppose same-sex marriage, FRC has decided to withdraw its support for the bill. 

At the FADA hearing on July 12, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) rightly pointed out this is just a “façade.” Nonetheless, the bill and the “fixes” allow religious beliefs to justify discrimination. Religion, though, is no excuse to harm others.

In the end FRC’s bluff was called. Here’s the real reason they oppose the new FADA:  It “implicitly affirm[s] the Supreme Court’s illegitimate decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.”

As Professor Katherine Franke said at the hearing, FADA actually "uses religion to justify a second run at a Supreme Court decision that some people disagree with." No “fix” changes that.