We recently reported that we heard rumblings that Republicans in the House of Representatives would soon hold a hearing on HR 2802, the deceptively named First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).
Now, they’ve made it official: Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced that he has scheduled a hearing on this harmful legislation for July 12, 2016 at 10:00am.
FADA was devised to create religious exemptions for those who wish to deny same-sex couples goods, services, and the fundamental right to marriage equality. FADA would not just sanction discrimination against same-sex couples, but also against unmarried couples, married couples in which one person had been previously married, and anyone who has had sex outside of marriage.
Such a discriminatory bill isn’t worthy of Congress’s consideration. Indeed, similar bills in the states were the subject of significant backlash from faith leaders, businesses and the public. That is why the committee has canceled or declined to hold hearings on this bill for the past three years.
The bill is also unconstitutional. In fact, just last week, a federal judge blocked Mississippi’s FADA, HB 1523, because it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The anti-LGBT animus behind FADA is all the more salient because July 12—the date of the FADA hearing—marks the one month anniversary of the tragic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando. We joined our friends and more than 70 civil rights, religious, and healthcare organizations in urging Congress to cancel the FADA hearing and instead protect the LGBT community from further harm and discrimination. Read our letter to Congress here.