Republicans Just Endorsed A Jim Crow Law For Gays

The Republican National Committee gave its backing to a law designed to treat gay Americans as second class citizens. After the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal in the entire United States, the Committee recently passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

It isn’t every day that the national party gets behind a specific law in Congress. So what is FADA?

You probably remember the national controversy over the Indiana law that allowed businesses to discriminate against gay people. FADA is that sort of law, but nationally. The bill’s supporters hide behind the fig leaf of religious freedom, arguing that the law would prevent supposed discrimination in how the government awards contracts, stipulating that if someone is opposed to same-sex marriages, they could still get federal dollars.

But groups like the ACLU see through the hateful smokescreen.

Ian Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the legislation would “eviscerate” the executive order signed President Obama last year barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT bias in the workplace.

“This sweeping and dangerous bill would open a Pandora’s Box of taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their children,” Thompson said. “Attempting to wrap this discriminatory proposal in the language of the Bill of Rights does not change the reality of its attack on our national values of fairness and equal treatment under the law for all.”

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, the legislation would “create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation” and called on members of Congress to oppose the bill.

“Not only is it wrong to promote discrimination with taxpayers’ money, it’s even worse to allow those taxpayer funds to be used to reward discriminatory actions by federal employees,” Stacy said. “We call on members of Congress to oppose this reckless and irresponsible legislation that has nothing to do with the First Amendment and everything to do with taxpayer-funded discrimination. It’s time for Congress to prove they are not out of touch and to stand on the right side of history with the far majority of Americans who support fairness and equality for all Americans.”

As is often the case with laws and legislation supported by conservatives, this law – currently in a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) – would roll back the rights of Americans, in this case as with voting rights bills, a group of Americans who generally do not vote Republican.

The Human Rights Campaign pointed out how the RNC-endorsed FADA would hurt real world Americans:

  • A federal employee could refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks for a same-sex couple
  • Organizations like homeless shelters or drug abuse treatment programs who receive federal funding could turn away LGBT people
  • It would approve groups or individuals, regardless of merit, who felt the government was forcing them to “approve” of same-sex marriage to sue the government and receive taxpayer money in the form of damages

We’ve been going forwards, not back on civil rights in this country. But once again the Republican Party is out of step with reality.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore