From Anderson’s most recent Heritage Foundation issue brief:
In June 2015, the Supreme Court redefined marriage throughout America by mandating governmental entities to treat same-sex relationships as marriages. The Court, however, did not say that private schools, charities, businesses, or individuals must do so if they disagree. Indeed, there is no justification for the government to force these entities to violate beliefs about marriage that, as Justice Kennedy noted, are held “in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world.” Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife should continue to be free to live and work according to their convictions.
The proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is a good first step to protecting freedom after the Court’s redefinition of marriage. FADA, sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R–UT) and Representative Raúl Labrador (R–ID), is a measured, reasonable, commonsense policy. It would ensure that no federal agency discriminates against individuals or institutions for following their convictions about marriage as a man-woman union by revoking their nonprofit tax-exempt status, or denying them government grants, contracts, accreditation, or licenses. FADA protects freedom and pluralism in the wake of social change—embodying the best of American values.
FADA Embodies the Best of American Values
Public policy should serve the common good. That requires the government to respect the freedom of all Americans, not just those with whom the powerful agree.
When President Barack Obama changed his position on the marriage issue in 2012, he insisted that those who disagree “are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective” but “because they care about families.” FADA would ensure that the government respects these people as well.
Respecting religious liberty in public life is particularly important. After all, as First Lady Michelle Obama put it, religion “isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.” And that’s precisely why FADA protects the rights of individuals and the associations they form—small businesses and charities, schools, and social services—to speak and act in accordance with their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman in the public square and the marketplace.
The Need for FADA
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.