Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are bracing for what is likely to be a contentious hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill over legislation aimed at protecting individuals and organizations who hold traditional views about marriage and sexuality.
The long-awaited hearing, called by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will examine how the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision has affected people who hold traditional views on marriage and review legislation that would protect those people from facing adverse actions by the government.
The bill being debated, called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), has 171 co-sponsors, all of them Republican except Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.
The measure was introduced in both the House and the Senate more than a year ago. Conservatives are eager for Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to allow the bill to get marked up in committee and then move to the House floor for a full vote.
“It is unacceptable that Chairman Chaffetz and Republican leaders have not prioritized consideration of FADA,” said Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, which is urging members to move the bill forward, in a press release. “The bill must be marked up before the Republican House majority leaves for a seven-week recess.”
Liberals, however, have major problems with the legislation, saying it would roll back “critical protections” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families, and are lobbying members to vote against it.
Upon learning of the hearing, a group of 70 left-leaning national, state, and local groups sent a letter to Chaffetz urging him to cancel the event. The hearing, “Religious Liberty and H.R. 2808, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA),” falls on the one-month anniversary of the terrorist attack on an Orlando gay nightclub that resulted in 49 people dead and another 53 injured.
“Congress should be holding hearings on the needs of the victims, their families, and survivors of the Orlando attacks, or on ways to better protect the LGBTQ community from bias-motivated violence or discrimination,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs for the liberal Human Rights Campaign in a statement. “But instead, only a month after the attack, they are unconscionably holding a hearing on harmful legislation that singles out the LGBTQ community.”
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