I have said before that whenever a piece of legislation has an absurdly patriotic label like the USA PATRIOT Act, you can be pretty sure that it contains something toxic that is being slipped in. The same is true when the bill has a name saying that is upholds or defends something that obviously does not need support, like the Defense of Marriage Act.
So my alert system went off when I heard that the Republican National Committee has proposed a resolution that has now been introduced in the House of Representatives called the First Amendment Defense Act. The point of the bill is clear.
Prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.
The resolution’s wording clearly shows that this bill is an attempt to provide cover for religious individuals and groups to discriminate against the LGBT community and same-sex couples in the light of what they perceive as a threat to them as a result of the Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage. The bill is being pushed by the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation that says in a resolution:
Whereas, The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should therefore protect Americans from the action of a narrow 5 to 4 majority of the Supreme Court who have upheld gay marriage without regard to the democratic rights of the people or the states, and without any religious liberty protections;
Whereas, Many on the Left exhibit an intensifying hatred and intolerance for gay marriage dissenters; and
Whereas, Religious schools, colleges and universities, and other charities, could lose their First Amendment rights and their right to equal access to government benefits, including 501(c)3 status, student aid, and government contracts; therefore be it
Resolved, The Republican National Committee urges Congress to pass and the President to sign The First Amendment Defense Act to protect the rights of believers to equal treatment by the government of The United States of America.
This looks like a pre-emptive strike against extending anti-discrimination statutes to encompass gender identity and sexual orientation.
At this stage, it does not seem to have a lot of support but it would be wise to keep a sharp eye on it to prevent it being slipped in while attention is focused elsewhere.