By Russell Berman - 09/19/13 10:00 AM EDT
A group of Republicans in the House is set to unveil a proposal aimed at protecting conservative groups in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
The Supreme Court in June ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, paving the way for the federal government to grant marriage benefits to same-sex couples with licenses from states that have legalized same-sex marriage.
Citing examples in the states, Labrador said he and other conservatives are worried that organizations like the Boy Scouts or Catholic Charities could lose their tax-exempt status because of their official positions on the question of marriage.
“My bill does not deal with those state issues,” Labrador said in an interview, “but we have already seen the increased attack and discrimination of institutions at the state level, and we just want to ensure that it does not happen at the federal level.
“I believe the Constitution protects these institutions,” he said, “but I just want to make sure that it’s in the law, that it’s 100 percent sure, that people have no question about it.”
The bill has 60 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), and two socially conservative Democrats: Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Daniel Lipinski (Ill.).
Labrador emphasized that the bill was not an attempt to overturn the Supreme Court decision and that it should appeal to a wide range of members concerned about government intrusion, particularly following the IRS scandal.
“My bill is very narrowly drafted, so this is something that conservatives, independents, moderates, Republicans, Democrats can support — just so we can protect these religious institutions from any discrimination by the federal government,” Labrador said.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, said the proposal was unnecessary.
“The federal government isn’t discriminating against religious groups or people of faith as it implements the Supreme Court’s decision striking down DOMA. And there’s no reason to believe that it ever will,” spokesman Fred Sainz said.
“This legislation’s real purpose is to let federal employees, contractors and grantees refuse to do their jobs or fulfill the terms of their taxpayer-funded contracts because they have a particular religious view about certain lawfully married couples — and then to sue the federal government for damages if they don’t get their way.”