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US: Bill proposed to protect groups opposed to gay marriage from discrimination

Republican Raúl Labrador drafted Marriage and Religious Freedom Act

Republican Raúl Labrador drafted the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. Credit: 590kid.com

A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill aimed at protecting religious institutions and other organizations opposed to gay marriage from potential discrimination by the federal government, The Washington Post reports.

Raúl Labrador, an Idaho Republican, says he drafted the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act out of concern that federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service may target anti-gay-marriage groups after the US Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. 

Labrador says the aim of the bill is to ensure that churches and religious groups could continue “practising their religion as they see fit.”

He cites a California bill that seeks to leverage the Boy Scouts’ tax-exempt status to force the organization to accept openly gay adults as evidence of such discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) says there’s no need for such legislation, saying the Constitution already safeguards “the rights of people of faith to hold and express their beliefs.”

“The purpose of the legislation introduced today is simply to let federal employees, contractors and grantees refuse to do their jobs or fulfill the terms of their taxpayer-funded contracts because they have a particular religious view about certain lawfully-married couples — and then to sue the federal government for damages if they don’t get their way,” HRC’s legislative director Allison Herwitt says.

Approximately 60 lawmakers are co-sponsors of Labrador’s bill, the Post says.