Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Unfortunately We Need This.

With all the laws that are being passed or being proposed in states around the country that gives special rights to people discriminate in the name of religion this law is necessary.
Kennedy, Scott Introduce Amendment to Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The Rainbow Times
By TRT Editor
May 27, 2016

WASHINGTON—Joined by leaders from the civil rights, social justice and faith communities, Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, today introduced legislation to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  The Do No Harm Act would clarify that no one can seek religious exemption from laws guaranteeing fundamental civil and legal rights. It comes in response to continued efforts across the country to cite religious belief as grounds to undermine Civil Rights Act protections, limit access to healthcare, and refuse service to minority populations.

Specifically, the Do No Harm Act would limit the use of RFRA in cases involving discrimination, child labor and abuse, wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, public accommodations, and social services provided through government contract.

“The right of Americans to freely and fully express our faith is sacred in this country,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “But in order to guarantee that liberty for every citizen, our system must ensure that my religious freedom does not infringe on yours or do you harm. While not its original intent, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has become a vehicle for those seeking to impose their beliefs on others or claim that the tenants of their faith justify discrimination. The Do No Harm Act will restore the balance between our right to religious freedom and our promise of equal protection under law.”
Representative Kennedy is right when the law was passed it had another purpose but over time the courts have started to interpret differently. In the past the courts have recognized that religious exemption didn’t apply to the civil and legal rights, they have ruled that there is an overriding right to treat everyone equally and not to discriminate against minorities, but there are strong indicators that that might be changing.
“When Congress passed RFRA in 1993, the goal was to protect religious freedom for minority groups by requiring the government to demonstrate a compelling interest and to use a policy that was the least restrictive means,” said Congressman Bobby Scott. “Since then, the law has been misconstrued as allowing the sincerely-held religious beliefs of one person to trump the civil rights of others. Civil rights are a compelling government interest, and we cannot allow so-called ‘religious freedom,’ ‘religious liberty’ or ‘faith-based initiatives’ to invalidate the very laws designed to correct the generations of injustices inflicted on minorities. The Do No Harm Act restores the original intent of RFRA.”

In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in response to a Supreme Court case undermining the rights of religious minorities. But in recent years, the misapplication of RFRA has been used to deny health care coverage for employees, claim exemptions to civil rights law, and complicate justice in child labor and abuse cases.
But now these laws are being used to justify discrimination against LGBT people. I see it only as a matter of time when a company like Hobby Lobby claims they are not hiring LGBT employees because it is against the company owners’ religious beliefs.

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