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House committee holds hearing on First Amendment Defense Act; prelates call for passage

July 13, 2016

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the US bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, issued a statement calling for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802/S.1598), sponsored by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

According to the Congressional Research Service, the legislation 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 increasing intolerance toward religious belief and belief in the conjugal meaning of marriage makes these protections essential for continuing faith-based charitable work, which supports the common good of our society,” the prelates said. “Faith-based agencies and schools should not lose their licenses or accreditation simply because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government's view.”

On July 12, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing in which proponents and opponents of the legislation offered testimony.

An attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom discussed the cases of government employees and students who have been fired or disciplined after it came to light that they believed the marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Kelvin Cochran also spoke before the committee; the Atlanta fire chief was fired after it was discovered that he had written a Bible study critical of homosexuality.

 
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