Earlier this week we reported that the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and Family Research Council Action announced that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee, had made a promise to pass a heinous anti-gay discrimination bill into law during their first 100 days in office. The bill would allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against gay people in the guise of ‘religious liberty’.
“If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President.”
Now Donald Trump has expressed support for the legislation in a letter to Pulse, a conservative group, the Washington Blade reports:
If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump writes.
The letter was written to the American Principles Project, a social conservative group calling on 2016 candidates to sign a pledge agreeing to push for passage of the First Amendment Defense Act within 100 days of office. Six candidates — Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum — signed the pledge, but Trump instead for the first time signaled conditional support for the legislation in the letter.
In the missive, Trump outlines his expected approach to religious freedom if he were to occupy the White House. Making the point the president cannot pass legislation, Trump says he would “certainly sign legislation that protects religious liberty for all.”
Maggie Gallagher of the American Principles Project tooted about Donald’s support for the legislation in a video this week:
What exactly is the First Amendment Defense Act?
Earlier this year we reported on a the vile bill, introduced by the two bigots pictured above, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), left, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
The Human Rights Campaign explained the measure:
The legislation would prohibit any adverse action by the federal government against an individual or organization for discriminatory actions against legally married same-sex couples as long as they claim they are acting in accordance with their religious beliefs. “Adverse action” is broadly defined to include the denial or revocation of a federal tax status or deduction; denial of a federal grant, contract, loan, benefit or employment; or any other act of discrimination. The bill provides individuals and organizations the right to sue the federal government for monetary damages in federal court.
If passed, this legislation would create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation. It would permit a federal employee, for example, to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk. This legislation would also permit recipients of federal grants and contracts, including those for social services programs like homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people. It allows any of these individuals or groups, or anyone else who believes they have been somehow required by the federal government to approve of married same-sex couples, to file a lawsuit and potentially receive damages from taxpayer money.
Gallagher released the following statement a few months ago:
“It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP. Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA. Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away.”
In September, The New York Times editorial board attacked the bill, warning that it would “it would deliberately warp the bedrock principle of religious freedom under the Constitution.”
As critics of the bill quickly pointed out, the measure’s broad language — which also protects those who believe that “sexual relations are properly reserved to” heterosexual marriages alone — would permit discrimination against anyone who has sexual relations outside such a marriage. That would appear to include women who have children outside of marriage, a class generally protected by federal law.
This bizarre fixation on what grown-ups do in their bedrooms — which has long since been rejected by the Supreme Court and the vast majority of Americans — is bad enough. The bill makes matters worse by covering for-profit companies, which greatly multiplies the potential scope of discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Though the bill’s chances are slim, its broad right-wing support (“The bill has 152 co-sponsors in the House and 37 in the Senate — all Republicans but one, Representative Daniel Lipinski of Illinois. It has been endorsed by the Republican National Committee and at least four Republican presidential contenders”) should serve as a warning that the fight to retain LGBT rights and protections is far from over and we must continue to be vigilant against efforts to take them away from us.