The First Amendment Defense Act is likely to legalize the state-sanctioned discrimination. This bill on its face is going to prohibit federal government discrimination that is based on beliefs about same-sex marriage, but in reality, the bill is going to allow manipulation of critical protections from the federal government that is meant to act against discrimination of the LGBTQ communities (Lang, 2017). LGBTQ families have continued to face discrimination across the country. The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would allow businesses and individuals using the taxpayers’ dollars to continue ignoring those federal policies that are meant to protect them if they end up claiming that protections are not in tandem with their beliefs and opinions about marriage. This paper, therefore, analyzes this act and how it tends to harm the LGBTQ community.
FADA can be regarded as an attempt to solve intricate issues that do not exist at all. The constitution of America has provided for strong protection for organizations and individuals to practice religion and speak their beliefs freely. No one can be denied the federal benefit, the federal grant or even a contract or be exempted from receiving exempt tax status on the basis of religious beliefs (Lang, 2017). The federal government has the responsibility of eradicating any harmful discrimination (Richardson, 2016). FADA which was introduced by Rep Raul Labrador and then in the Senate by Mike Lee has its basic tenet grounded on the fact that it would not be discrimination if businesses and individuals discriminate against LGBTQ if they have some religious beliefs to do so. But this seems to be the worst Act since it would proliferate discrimination against the LGBTQ group.
FADA was introduced in 2015 in the 114th Senate by Mike Lee, a Republican and in the House of Representative by Raul Labrador a Republican who represents Idaho (Richardson, 2016). The bill has a majority of support from Republicans, and President Trump has vowed to assent it into law once it is represented to him (Lang, 2017). This Act is appearing across the country and more infamously in Indiana of Mike Pence, now the vice president of United States of America. There are high chances that Republican will surely pass it unless the Democrats end up filibustering it.
Liberty Counsel, a leading anti-LGBTQ organization, had earlier supported this legislation by the federal government. The Council later balked after Rep Raul Labrador introduced some changes that would protect people from government action that regards any moral conviction and religious beliefs on marriage (Richardson, 2016). According to FADA, for the first time, the government will end up recognizing and condoning same-sex marriage at par with the natural marriage. Therefore, Liberty Counsel has shifted its support for this legislation unless the new amendment that has been made on FADA is removed and the original version of marriage being between one man and woman be returned.
Family Research Council has also supported the legislation in its original version but withdraws its support once the new amendment is introduced. The new amendment is the main area of contention. The initial language of the legislation prohibited the government from sanctioning any person who acted in tandem with their moral conviction and religious beliefs that marriage encompasses union between spouses and that sex are only for unions (Knauer, 2015). Therefore, the main idea of either supporting the legislation or opposing it by the various expert groups is embedded on common grounds.
Despite the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage during the Obama’s administration, the daunting task for the LGBTQ activists and some expert groups has been how to deal with the FADA that allows individuals and businesses to discriminate against these families if they have a religious belief to do so (Thompson, 2015). One of the expert groups involved in this case is the Family Research Council. The Family Research Council is of the opinion that no one should be discriminated or lose the status of non-exempt, face disqualification or even lose a professional license or be punished by the government for just believing in marriage as a union between spouses.
The other expert group involved is the National Organization for Marriage that has vowed to work with President Trump to see that conservative judges are appointed so that the words and even the meaning of Constitution are respected. National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is vowing to ensure that this illegal and overarching legislation is rescinded as it attempts to redefine gender as it seeks to redefine marriage (Thompson, 2015). It is also vowing to work with the President to see that policies that tend to seek other countries into accepting same-sex marriage as a condition of receiving aid are eliminated.
Many activists that advocate for equal rights to the LGBTQ families have been working out methods to see that this legislation is defeated as it would increase discrimination against the group. The FADA laws tend to go beyond the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that were mainly aimed at for instance to allow pastry maker to decline to bake a cake for the wedding of same sex couples (Lupu, 2015). FADA legislation could need up antagonizing things and even hospitals could fail to treat an LGBTQ person simply if the institution believes that such behaviors are against their religious beliefs. This is the main reason why the LGBTQ activists are against the legislation. Both activists and experts tend to base their argument on main tenets of the legislation, but the argument of the experts lean more on the definition of moral conviction.
The mainstream media has tried to cover the FADA legislation adequately so that the public can be informed of the main issues in this Act. Reporters from Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post are actively trying to substantiate the gist of the legislation and the amendment and what it means to the LGBTQ communities. The media has tried even to capture the whole case of LGBTQ families including the transgender people through the provision of adequate data that captures the reality of discrimination on these people (Richardson, 2016). According to the mainstream media, from 2015 to 2016 an increase in the number of legislative bills that discriminate against the LGBTQ people has increased (Wilson, 2017). This is despite the fact that there has been an increased awareness of the issues that face transgender people.
The number of transgender bills that discriminate these families according to the media has increased twice in 2016 as compared to 2015 (Wilson, 2017).The media report shows that there are about 175 bills that are against LGBTQ of which 44 tend to target the transgender people (Wilson, 2017). Of these 44 bills, 29 of them have targeted use of sex-segregated spaces such as schools, public restrooms (Wilson, 2017). Two of the bills that have been passed deny the transgender people any access to hospital care and even the right to change the gender marker on their certificates of birth (Thompson, 2015). Five of these bills on transgender are the ones which are called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) bills that would allow those programs that are funded publicly to refuse service to the transgender and LGBTQ groups based on the religious beliefs.
The media also provides that in certain states, such legislations have borne some negative effects on political figures with some losing their elected seats for having taken a stand that is against the opinion of the majority. About 62% of the population in North Carolina, for instance, has opposed this bill (Wilson, 2017). About 57% of the population said that this bill was their main reason for voting. In many states, the majority of the people voted based on this legislation. In South Dakota, a bill was recently passed that would end transgender students from using locker rooms and bathrooms that are in alignment with their gender identity. However, Governor Dennis Daugaard has not signed the bill, and many are hopeful that he will veto these legislations.
In Georgia, the media shows that the Governor vetoed discriminatory bills early this year since he knew the political consequences of such legislations. Similarly, Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota also vetoed some earlier discriminatory legislation and the approval ratings by Morning Consult have shown that he and Georgian Governor are the most popular governors in the country (Wilson, 2017). Pat McCrory, the Governor of North Carolina, lost his reelection bid due to his support for the bill, and this was seen as a victory for the opponent of LGBTQ bill that he had championed. The media, therefore, cannot be belittled on its role in informing the public on the basic tenets of FADA and analyzing deeper on other such discriminatory legislations against the LGBTQ families and the transgender groups.
In many cases, social problem workers help those groups that are discriminated in overcoming social problems and even health problems (Lupu, 2015). They help overcome social instability. In this case, the social problem workers could be counselors and human right group activists that may work to see that discriminatory legislation against the LGBTQ families does not come to pass. The subject here is being the transgender groups and the LGBTQ families. The social problem here is discrimination that makes the LGBTQ families feel rejected by the larger society.
A social problem has been used to describe social conditions that damage the society. In this case, the discrimination against the LGBT group is the social problem. Many cases of social problems will begin with claims being made by people that some conditions need to be considered as a problem (Lupu, 2015). Additionally, they argue as in this case that the challenge should be understood and addressed in certain ways. The concerned individuals will respond and rework on these claims so that the problem is constructed by media, public and policymakers.
The FADA legislation is becoming controversial, and policy makers are concerned with its impacts. The legislation once assented would have a significant effect on the transgender group and the LGBTQ communities as shown in this discussion. It has become a social problem in the society. It is in this regard that Social problem workers have a role in implementing the policy while critics analyze the effectiveness of the policy. The constructionist approach should be the best method to use in solving such problems such as discrimination against the LGBTQ families.
Knauer, N. J. (2015). Religious Exemptions, Marriage Equality, and the Establishment of Religion. UMKC L. Rev., 84(3), 749-795.
Lang, N. (2017). 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for anti-LGBT discrimination. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 16, 2017 from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-first-amendment-defense-act-trump-20170106-story.html
Lupu, I. C. (2015). Moving Targets: Obergefell, Hobby Lobby, and the future of LGBT Rights. Ala. CR & CLL Rev., 7, 1-70.
Richardson, B. (2016). First Amendment Defense Act raises debate on punishing belief against same-sex marriage. The Washington Times. Retrieved April 16, 2017 from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/12/first-amendment-defense-act-raises-debate-on-punis/
Thompson, E. S. (2015). Compromising equality: an analysis of the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and its impact on LGBT workers. BCJL & Soc. Just., 35(2), 285-318.
Wilson, F. R. (2017). Squaring Faith and Sexuality: Religious Institutions and the Unique Challenge of Sports. Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 34(2), 385-487.
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