Congress shouldn't write LGBTQ discrimination into First Amendment
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The political battle against marriage equality is unfortunately gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, especially in the House with the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), H.R. 2802.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, press and expression. If the First Amendment Defense Act becomes law it would "prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage."

FADA is a perversion of our Founders' intent for genuine freedom for all Americans. If enacted, FADA would write discrimination against the LGBTQ community into the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.


FADA would, for example, allow a county clerk or minister the freedom to condemn same-sex marriage and, based on this "view held with respect to marriage," refuse to marry a same-sex couple. Under this dreadful law, the couple would have no legal recourse.

The minister could be a employer who refuses to hire or, alternatively fire, someone in a same-sex marriage. It could be a bigoted businessperson who refuses to cater a same-sex wedding. It could be any bigot anywhere in America who places hate above freedom. With FADA as law, marriage equality would effectively be over.

FADA has 130 GOP co-sponsors, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who once spoke at a meeting of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, founded by Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. I suppose Scalise exercised his First Amendment right to speak to Klansmen and endorse their organization with his presence.

The First Amendment Defense Act represents perverse progress for the GOP. Republicans have finally given up on the fight for the failed Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That's good. What's bad is they have redefined their anti-marriage campaign as an anti-Constitution and anti-Supreme Court campaign.

FADA is a GOP legislative abbreviation for "HATE."

Far-right lawyers and activists determined to cast the LGBTQ community as villains in an ongoing drama against religion and traditional values are educating anti-LGBTQ groups across the country on how to legally oppose same-sex marriage. An article on the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association site "strongly urges support of the First Amendment Defense Act."

FADA is a threat to the newly legalized national law of marriage equality. It threatens other important LGBTQ legislation such as the Employment Non-discrimination Act, which has been held hostage in Congress since the prehistoric era of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina.

The growing congressional opposition to the Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality began before the historic June 26 decision was announced. It is still strong and the 2016 presidential candidates will have to address the issue soon at candidate forums and in interviews with news editors, reporters and bloggers.

Questions about FADA are loaded and controversy-ready. Even liberal and longtime LGBTQ ally Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHow Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 Close the avenues of foreign meddling Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report MORE, who has often spoken about her faith, may have to be cautious when responding to a question such as "Do you support the First Amendment Defense Act?"

It may be politically risky for Clinton to speak in opposition to the First Amendment or to dare suggest, if she would, amending the Bill of Rights to offer LGBTQ protections.

Certainly, the First Amendment Defense Act is deceptively titled. The LGBTQ community is neither at war with the Bill of Rights nor with religion. Such claims are divisive hoaxes. As Americans LGBTQ people want all the rights and privileges the Founders intended us. The Founders did not exclude the LGBTQ community from the U.S. Constitution.

Our LGBTQ debate is with those who would use the wisdom and compassion of our Founders, persecuted in Europe, and the ruling documents they wrote to form this nation as something other than what John Winthrop described as a shining city upon a hill with freedom for all.

Congress should end its divisiveness against the LGBTQ community and work cooperatively to produce harmony and freedom across the country. It should immediately remove the First Amendment Defense Act from further consideration.

Patterson is a former diplomat who blogs at