Chris Johnson reports at the Washington Blade:
Tuesday’s congressional hearing on a federal “religious freedom” bill that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination is “disturbing,” a White House spokesperson said Monday.
Jeff Tiller, a White House spokesperson, made the remarks in response to an email request from the Washington Blade to comment on the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform’s controversial hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act.
“We strongly oppose attempts to roll back non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans,” Tiller said. “It’s disturbing that congressional Republicans plan to hold a hearing tomorrow on discriminatory, anti-LGBT legislation. President Obama remains firmly committed to promoting and defending the equal rights of all Americans, including the rights of LGBT Americans.”
A coalition of 70 groups has called on Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to cancel the hearing, which is set to take place on the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., claiming the lives of 49 people and wounding 53 others.
The HRC offers a primer on the bill:
1. FADA is tantamount to state sanctioned discrimination. This bill would allow individuals, many businesses, and non-profit organizations — even those non-profit organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government — to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect LGBTQ families from harmful discrimination.
2. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex married couples are entitled to all federal spousal benefits regardless of where they live. Under FADA, however, individual businesses could run roughshod over the civil rights of these couples and deny them the spousal benefits they are entitled to under the law.
3. FADA could even allow any privately owned business to refuse to let an employee take time off to care for their same-sex spouse, in violation of family and medical leave laws – a particularly appalling aspect given the many families currently caring for those who were injured in the Orlando shooting.
4. Despite protections in the Fair Housing Act and strong administrative guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commercial landlords could be empowered to violate fair housing laws by refusing housing to a single mother or same-sex couple based on religious belief that sexual relations are reserved to different-sex married couples.