The basics: The First Amendment Defense Act (often abbreviated FADA) is a bill introduced into the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate on June 17, 2015. The bill aims to prevent the federal government from taking action against people who discriminate against LGBTQ people for religious reasons.
In short, FADA would allow hospitals, universities, and businesses to ignore same-sex marriage, deny women health care, and fire gay people.
It is the nuclear version of the so-called “religious freedom” laws that have appeared across the country, most infamously in Mike Pence’s Indiana. The Republican House will surely pass it, the Senate will pass it unless it’s filibustered by Democrats, and the President-elect has promised to sign it.
To put it bluntly: If it becomes law, FADA will be the worst thing to happen to women and LGBT people in a generation.
FADA’s basic principle is that it’s not discrimination when businesses discriminate against LGBT people, if they claim a religious reason for doing so. The most famous situations have to do with marriage: wedding cake bakers who say that if they bake a cake, they’re violating their religion; Kim Davis, the government clerk who said that signing a secular marriage certificate was a religious act that she could not perform.
But the more important cases are ones like hospitals refusing to treat LGBT people (or their children), pharmacies refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, businesses refusing to offer health benefits to a same-sex partner, and state-funded adoption agencies refusing to place kids with gay families. That is what FADA is all about.
Any business, agency, or individual, including government employees, hospitals, or huge businesses like Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A — covered.
Old-age homes and hospices that turn away gay people are covered.
Hospitals that refuse a same-sex partner visitation rights – covered.
National hotel chains that refuse to rent rooms to gay couples (or unmarried straight ones) – covered.
And finally, since “moral conviction” is written into the bill, no actual religious grounds are necessary; just some moral conviction that you are right and THEY are wrong.
Oh, and if a State has a law that prevents such discrimination? This is specifically written to supersede that, unless the state laws are written to be even more extreme than FADA… in that case, the state law supersedes.
FADA effectively overturns Obergefell without anyone having to file a lawsuit, because it creates a loophole as large as the right to marry itself. Any governor, mayor, or clerk could proffer a “moral objection” to same-sex marriage, and stop all employees under his or her authority from registering gay couples or certifying gay weddings. And even absent such action, any employer or business can act as though the marriage simply does not exist.
And it has the support of the republican House, Senate, and president-elect.
5 Replies to “Let’s Get Familiar with the First Amendment Defense Act”
"Better" yet, it is the camel's nose under the tent flap for "moral conviction" to trump — well, anything the majority or those in power feel it should trump. Why stop with birth control or gay marriage? Why can't the same principle (my "moral conviction" trumps any law) be applied to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. "It is against my religious beliefs for black to share the same beds as whites, or to eat together, as the Lord determined the races should be separate." "It violates my moral conviction to provide service to a Jew in this establishment." "Sure I arrested him for being Muslim — I have a religious certainty that's what God wants me to do."
Of course, the same courtesy will not be extended to people who decline to pay taxes that go to morally objectionable ends. Nor to people who feel that prejudice against Christians is allowed (though one can assume that the old "Them" Christian denomations — Catholics, etc. — may find it an uncomfortable time).
Once you establish the principle that an individual's personal convictions allow them to break the law with impunity, you've destroyed society and rendered useless any laws to protect the weak from the powerful or the minority from the majority.
You articulate many of my worries, Dave. This is just a horror of a bill.
So this “Defense Against The First Amendment” act lets any governor, mayor, or clerk establish THEIR religion’s marriage rules as the official rules for their territory? Wait until they ban some divorced straight people from remarrying, or men from coming in to their office without turbans or yarmulkes, or let Muslim or Mormon men marry multiple wives.
Meanwhile, an actual First Amendment Defense Act ought to let people take currently-banned drugs if their religious views say it’s ok, or go naked in public if their religion doesn’t enforce the same modesty rules other religions do.
Fada in french is a southerner word for "idiot" or "crazy" :D
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