Liberal news media organizations employed a lot of catastrophism in their coverage of the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump; now they can all say a big "I told you so." The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is exactly the kind of anti-LGBTQ+ legislature that people feared during the campaign, and it may be coming to Congress very soon. These seven questions about the First Amendment Defense Act will help you decipher the language of the bill and figure out how to stop it before it can become a law.
Bolstered by Trump's election, Republicans across the country have already started proposing and passing harsh legislation to restrict Americans' rights (unless you're a straight, cis, white man). Ohio's "heartbeat bill" was the first of many bills in the age of Trump to further regulate citizens' private lives, a perpetually troubling contradiction in GOP ideology. It appears now that FADA will be the second major bill to infringe on Americans' civil liberties, and a potentially long-awaited win for Republicans crusading for "religious freedom."
The bill is sticking up for supposedly persecuted U.S. Christians who are suffering under the gay agenda, so you can see why preventing it is of the highest importance. Read through these seven questions to educated on the bill and how to stop it.
What Is It?
The FADA bill was first introduced in June 2015, as the Republican response to alleged discrimination by the federal government against people trying to practice their own religious beliefs.
What Will It Do?
The bill will allow individuals, including corporations, to discriminate against Americans on the basis of their marital status and sexual relationships. Under the rules of the bill, people are allowed to discriminate against anyone who doesn't fit their definition of marriage, and the federal government is not allowed take legal action against that discrimination.
Who Will It Affect?
The bill is worded so as to discriminate against Americans in visibly non-heterosexual relationships or non-marital sexual relationships. If a businessperson sees a same-sex couple, a couple they somehow determine to be sexually active but unmarried, or even a single parent, they would have the legal right to deny them service.
Why Is It So Dangerous?
This bill leaves a lot of unanswered questions about how people can choose to discriminate. It essentially allows people to discriminate on stereotyping, as well as any visual evidence they might have to support their assertion that another person leads a "nontraditional" lifestyle.
Two people of any gender or sexual orientation could be assumed to be cavorting outside the bounds of "traditional" marriage and refused service just because of that assumption. Plus, the fact that it's legally protecting discrimination, even on religious grounds, is problematic.
Who's Behind It?
Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz are planning to reintroduce the bill into the Senate, claiming that they have a better chance of passing it into law now than they did last year, thanks to You Know Who. "The prospects for protecting religious freedom are brighter now than they have been in a long time," Cruz told BuzzFeed earlier this month. "We are having ongoing conversations with our colleagues both in Congress and leaders in the new administration about a multitude of ways we can honor the commitment made to the voters in this last election."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the religious authority governing the nation's roughly 80 million Catholics, also endorses the bill, despite the fact that 62 percent of American Catholic respondents in a Pew Research survey endorsed social acceptance of homosexuality.
What Do The Democrats Say?
Because the bill has been stuck in committee for so long, there hasn't been much Democratic pushback yet. However, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the bill exactly one month after the Orlando shooting, prompting some outraged words from ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings:
The timing of this hearing could not be any more offensive. We asked the Republicans repeatedly to cancel this hearing, but they are pressing forward anyway because this issue is critical to their aggressive anti-LGBT agenda in Congress. With everything going on in this country right now, we should be coming together as a nation, not tearing each other apart, which is exactly what this bill does.
How Can I Stop It?
Call your legislators and the bill's primary sponsors, Sens. Cruz and Lee, and Rep. Raul Labrador. Also, you can donate to the ACLU, because they're very likely to get involved with the legal proceedings at some point.
Honoring religious freedom is awesome, and it would be awesome if Republicans actually fought for freedom of religion. But, realistically, that's not at all what this bill is about — it's an excuse to appeal to the base and legalize hate against the LGBTQ+ community.