WASHINGTON — A Republican Congressman from Idaho has introduced a bill that seeks to protect Christians and other religious citizens from being punished by the federal government for their belief in Biblical marriage.
Representative Raul Labrador announced on Thursday his submission of the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” which already has the support of over 60 Congressman, mainly Republicans.
“Regardless of your ideology, we can all agree about the importance of religious liberty in America,” he wrote in a news release outlining the Act. “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.”
Under the bill, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would be barred from denying or revoking the tax-exempt status of organizations who reject homosexual “marriage,” and other government agencies would be prohibited from denying religious individuals and groups any available benefits or otherwise discriminate against them in any way.
“Our bill will ensure tolerance for individuals and organizations that affirm traditional marriage, protecting them from adverse federal action,” Labrador continued. “I’m [pleased] to be joined by my colleagues in introducing this bill, and will strongly advocate for its passage.”
The Congressman told reporters that he has been concerned since June’s Supreme Court ruling overturning a key component of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that Christians may soon face punishment for following the Bible.
“My main concern is how can we protect religious institutions and churches, individuals who actually have a belief in traditional marriage, from discrimination from the federal government,” he told The Daily Caller. “From all of a sudden the federal government saying, “Hey, because you have these traditional views, you’re no longer going to receive contracts, [to] you’re no longer going to receive tax-exempt status.’”
He noted that similar situations are already occurring on the state level, as legislators in California already proposed a bill earlier this year seeking to revoke the tax-exempt status of any youth organization that believes homosexual behavior is sinful.
Representative Steve Scalise, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, who is co-sponsoring the Act, applauded Labrador for his efforts.
“I commend Congressman Raul Labrador for bringing forth this bill and leading on this important issue. As we’ve seen with the IRS scandals, nonprofit organizations and those who support them may be targeted and punished for their beliefs and principles,” he stated. “Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage may embolden those in government who want to impose their views of marriage on faith-based organizations. We need this strong legislation to protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Raul’s bill does exactly that, ensuring respect and tolerance for those who affirm traditional marriage.”
Other Congressmen who have signed on as co-sponsors include Representatives Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Matt Salmon of Arizona, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Broun of Georgia and over 50 others nationwide.