A Republican Senator and Representative have both introduced corresponding legislation that would ban federal agencies from discriminating against people who oppose same-sex marriage because of their religious or moral beliefs.
Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho introduced the House version of the bill, while Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah submitted the Senate version, The Hill reports.
“Our bill ensures that the federal government does not penalize Americans for following their religious beliefs or moral convictions on traditional marriage,” Labrador said. “In a shifting landscape, it’s time that Congress proactively defend this sacred right.”
Labrador laid out exactly what the bill, called the First Amendment Defense Act, would prevent a federal agency from doing to those who oppose same-sex marriage, The New Civil Rights Movement reports.
The First Amendment Defense Act “would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. For example, the bill would prohibit the IRS from stripping a church of its tax exemption for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings," Labrador said in the statement.
Lee released his own statement upon introducing his Senate version, stating the right to religious liberty as why the bill is needed.
“There’s a reason the right to religious liberty appears first in our nation’s Bill of Rights," Lee said. "The freedom to live and to act in accordance with the dictates of one’s conscience and religious convictions is integral to human flourishing, serving as the foundation upon which America has produced the most diverse, tolerant, and stable society the world has ever known.
"The vast majority of Americans today still hold a robust view of religious liberty, yet across the country the right of conscience is threatened by state and local governments that coerce, intimidate, and penalize individuals, associations, and businesses who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman," the statement continues. "The First Amendment Defense Act is necessary to ensure that this kind of government excess never occurs at the federal level."
The legislation currently has 57 co-sponsors in the House, with only one Democrat supporting the bill, Dan Lipinski from Illinois. There are 18 co-sponsors of the Senate version.
The bill comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled later this month to release their decision on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. If the court decides it is, same-sex marriage will be made legal nationwide.