Republicans want to codify into law the ability to claim religious exceptions to marrying same-sex couples, but as usual they're so awful at legislating that the bill would allow people to claim religious exceptions to break a multitude of laws, including existing protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
In wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Republicans are pushing legislation that aims to protect Americans who oppose these unions on religious grounds. But critics say the language is so broad, the bill creates a license to discriminate that would let employers fire women for getting pregnant outside of wedlock.
The First Amendment Defense Act prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person -- which is defined to include for-profit corporations -- acting in accordance with a religious belief that favors so-called traditional marriage. This means the feds can't revoke a nonprofit's tax-exempt status or end a company's federal contract over this issue.
The bill specifically protects those who believe that marriage is between "one man and one woman" or that "sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage." Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill "clearly encompasses discrimination against single mothers" and would hobble the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal body that protects women from sex-based discrimination, to act.
This scenario isn't merely hypothetical. There are a number of recent cases where religious schools have fired unwed teachers for becoming pregnant. A Montana Catholic school teacher who was fired for having a baby out of wedlock, for example, filed a discrimination charge last year with the EEOC. While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws, that exception is somewhat limited, not necessarily covering educators employed by Catholic schools who teach about exclusively secular subjects.
James Ryan, a spokesman for the EEOC, said the commission could not comment on pending legislation in Congress.
Nice folks, the party of "we want you to have the ability to fire people because they had sex without being married."
Keep it up, GOP.