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Four Things You Need to Know About the So-Called First Amendment Defense Act

by Hayley Miller July 11, 2016

Tomorrow, on the one month anniversary of the horrific attack at an Orlando nightclub where 49 LGBTQ people and allies were murdered and 53 others wounded, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

FADA is a radical piece of legislation that would sanction unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Before tomorrow’s hearing, here are five things you should know about the discriminatory bill:

  1. FADA is tantamount to state sanctioned discrimination. This bill would allow individuals, many businesses, and non-profit organizations—even those non-profit organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government— to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect LGBTQ families from harmful discrimination.
  2. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex married couples are entitled to all federal spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Under FADA, however, individual businesses could run roughshod over the civil rights of these couples and deny them the spousal benefits they are entitled to under the law.
  3. FADA could even allow any privately owned business to refuse to let an employee take time off to care for their same-sex spouse, in violation of family and medical leave laws – a particularly appalling aspect given the many families currently caring for those who were injured in the Orlando shooting.
  4. Despite protections in the Fair Housing Act and strong administrative guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commercial landlords could be empowered to violate fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother or same-sex couple based on religious belief that sexual relations are reserved to different-sex married couples.

Hayley Miller
Hayley Miller


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