The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing next week on a federal anti-LGBTQ bill, similar to the one that was just blocked by a federal judge in Mississippi. The hearing will take place on Tuesday morning, exactly one month after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that claimed the lives of 49 LGBTQ individuals and allies.
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) seeks to allow individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations to circumvent federal protections for LGBTQ couples and families under the guise of protecting religious liberty. The opening line of the bill reads, “To ensure that the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
If this law were to go into effect, companies, organizations, and individuals would not suffer any legal repercussions, such as losing tax benefits, for refusing to provide spousal tax, medical, or educational benefits, to same-sex married couples. It would also mean that an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant could lose her job because of her boss’s disapproval.
“Congress should be holding hearings on the needs of the victims, their families, and survivors of the Orlando attacks, or on ways to better protect the LGBTQ community from bias-motivated violence or discrimination,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “But instead, only a month after the attack, they are unconscionably holding a hearing on harmful legislation that singles out the LGBTQ community.”
As of April 2016 there were more than one hundred active bills across 22 states that legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community is not only the target of harmful legislation, but is also a major target for hate crimes; 20% of reported hate crimes are committed against LGBTQ individuals.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has signed onto a letter with the ACLU and over 70 other organizations urging Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to cancel the hearing.