Two chairmen of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference gave a resounding endorsement of a bill intended to prevent the government from discriminating against citizens based on their belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah reintroduced the First Amendment Defense Act last week along with 21 other Republicans.
“What an individual or organization believes about the traditional definition of marriage is not — and should never be — a part of the government’s decision-making process when distributing licenses, accreditations or grants,” Lee’s statement read.
The bishops emphasized that the bill is needed to protect those with “reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government’s view.”
“FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the Conference’s committee for religious liberty, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the subcommittee for the promotion and defense of marriage in a statement on Wednesday.
“For example, in a pluralistic society, faith-based charitable agencies and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation, or tax-exempt status.”
The Catholic Church will “continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good” as well as “stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination,” Kurtz and Conley wrote.
Several LGBT and social-justice groups have been vocal in their opposition to the legislation, calling it “state-sanctioned discrimination.” The Human Rights Campaign and American Civil Liberties Union both lobbied against the bill.
However, the updated version of the bill also protects from discrimination those who believe marriage can be a union between any two people, including those of the same sex.
The bill was introduced in both chambers of Congress in 2015 but did not move past committee. President Trump said in December that he supports the bill.