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USCCB Chairmen Give Strong Support for the ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

 
June 19, 2015

The ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ is a federal non-discrimination act
Religious beliefs and moral convictions on marriage would be protected
The Act is needed in an increasingly intolerant climate

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which is a federal non-discrimination act.

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their religious beliefs or moral convictions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. For such individuals and organizations, the Act provides broad protections, including in the areas of federal contracts, grants, employment, and tax-exempt status. The bills were introduced June 17 in the U.S. Senate (S. 1598) by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 2802) by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID).

The chairmen, in a joint letter of support to each of the sponsors, noted that “persons who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman are increasingly having their religious liberties jeopardized and even forfeited.” Noting some examples of efforts to discriminate on the bases of religious beliefs regarding marriage and human sexuality, the Archbishops said, “It is becoming apparent that some who promote marriage redefinition do not support the coexistence and tolerance of different ideas in a pluralistic society but instead have a ‘comply or else’ agenda.” Further, they indicated, “As a non-discrimination Act, FADA would protect these individuals and organizations from federal government discrimination.”  

The Act refers to the recent exchange at the U.S. Supreme Court when the marriage cases were being argued, noting that “when asked whether a religious school could lose its tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage, the Solicitor General of the United States represented to the United States Supreme Court that ‘[i]t’s certainly going to be an issue’.” Aware of this atmosphere, the chairmen in their letters of support for FADA said, “In a climate of increasing intolerance, these protections are very much needed.”

Encouraging passage of the Act, the Archbishops said, “The leadership of our Church will continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good.”

The letters of support for and a backgrounder on the First Amendment Defense Act are available at www.usccb.org/defenseofmarriage/defense-of-marriage-in-the-news.cfm.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, defense of marriage, religious freedom, marriage, First Amendment Defense Act, FADA, discrimination, H.R. 2802, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Congress, federal government, Supreme Court
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