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US Catholic Bishops Urge Passage of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, Offer Backgrounder

By United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 24th, 2013
USCC Office of Media Relations (www.usccb.org)

"This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important," said Archbishop Cordileone. "It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments - this must not spread to the federal government."

WASHINGTON, DC (USCCB) - Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Raśl Labrador.

"This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important," said Archbishop Cordileone. "It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments - this must not spread to the federal government."

Archbishop Lori agreed and added, "I strongly support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, this Act is an important step in preserving their religious liberties at the federal level."

"Among the many protections in this bill, the federal government would not be able to deny individuals and organizations a grant, contract, or employment because their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is informed by their religious faith," Archbishop Lori added. Both Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Lori urge members of the House of Representatives to join in supporting the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.

More information on the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act is available here

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The Catholic Bishops of the United States Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Backgrounder

1.What would the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act do?

The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their religiously-motivated belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.The Act provides broad protections against adverse federal actions directed toward individuals and organizations that act on such beliefs.

2.What are some examples of how such individuals and organizations would be protected?

The Act would prohibit the federal government from denying or revoking a nonprofit entity's tax-exempt status.It would also prohibit the federal government from denying or excluding an individual or organization from a federal grant, contract, or employment.Indeed, the Act would bar any discrimination by the federal government against individuals or organizations based upon their religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.

3.Who would the Act protect?

Importantly, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would protect a wide array of persons, including individuals and organizations - both for-profits and non-profits - regardless of whether or not they are religiously affiliated.Thus, business owners as well as churches would be protected.

4.Why is the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act needed?

The Act is needed because of growing intolerance toward religiously-minded individuals and organizations who want to live by their conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.There are a growing number of reports of individual and organizations holding such beliefs being targeted for discrimination by state governments.This bill would prevent the federal government from engaging in similar discrimination.

5.What states are currently engaging or proposing to engage in this discrimination?

There are many examples.To take just one, a bill was introduced in the California legislature at the beginning of this year to strip the Boy Scouts of their state tax exemption based on the Scouts' decision not to have adult men who are homosexually active serve as Scout leaders.The bill would also have revoked the tax-exempt status of other youth organizations that hold to an authentic sexual morality, including organizations affiliated with Catholic schools.

Recently, in New Mexico, the State Supreme Court ruled that a husband and wife who own and operate a photography studio must act against their religious beliefs and take the photographs of a same-sex commitment ceremony, if they want to do business in the state.One of the judges participating in the case said that violating one's religious beliefs was "the price of citizenship."

In light of these and other cases involving government action against those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage, it is vital that Congress act now to prevent similar intolerance at the federal level.

6.Does the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act have any effect on states or state law?

No.It only affects the federal government.

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