Senate republicans file a federal anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions bill

The bill, filed by Sen. Mike Lee, aims to enable individuals, businesses, and corporations to discriminate against the LGBTQ community

NEW YORK - GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, released the following statement in response to Sen. Mike Lee reintroducing the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” (FADA) on Thursday, a bill that would enable individuals, businesses, and corporations that cite religious objections to marriage equality to discriminate against LGBTQ couples and their families. The bill is similar to HB1523, the anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions bill that went into effect in Mississippi last year.

“America was founded on the freedom of religion and this shared value continues to be critical to our nation’s success, but it does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “While President Trump and the Senate Republicans behind this bill are pushing for discriminatory legislation, the LGBTQ community will not be silent and continue to protect the hardworking LGBTQ American families who would be placed in direct harm by this unjust bill.”

This bill has 21 co-sponsors and already has the full support of the Trump White House. During the 2016 election President Trump wrote on his campaign page: “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.”

However, this proposed law is in direct contrast to a recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) which showed that a majority of Americans oppose anti-LGBTQ religious exemption laws. PRRI also found that 72% of Americans support laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This includes six out of ten (60%) Republicans and 81% of Democrats.

For more information on how to accurately cover religious exemption legislation, such as FADA, please refer to GLAAD’s tip sheet: How to cover "religious exemptions" court cases, federal guidance, and legislation.