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GOP Plans To Push Anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Bill

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah plans to reintroduce the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in 2017, which would provide legal cover for people and companies that act against same-sex couples based upon religious beliefs.

Lee’s spokesman, Conn Carroll, told BuzzFeed News: "Hopefully November’s results will give us the momentum we need to get this done next year... We do plan to reintroduce FADA next Congress and we welcome Trump’s positive words about the bill."

Trump said in a September press release: "If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths."

FADA, which failed in 2015, is about far more than just beliefs. It would protect corporations and individuals from losing tax breaks or government grants if they choose to act on a "religious belief or moral conviction" that marriage only applies to heterosexuals, which means legal discrimination against same-sex couples, even though the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told BuzzFeed News:

The prospects for protecting religious freedom are brighter now than they have been in a long time. 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... Any effort to protect religious liberty has brighter prospects with a new Congress and new administration.

In June 2016, U.S. District Court Carlton Reeves blocked a Mississippi law that protected certain companies, individuals and religious organizations that chose to act on their "sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions" against same-sex marriage or any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, reported BuzzFeed News.

Reeves wrote in his ruling at the time: "Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is not rationally related to a legitimate end."

Sources: BuzzFeed News (2), / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

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