A House committee on Tuesday held a
hearing on a so-called religious freedom bill that seeks to protect
individuals opposed to marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
Democrats and LGBT rights advocates
blasted House leaders for holding the hearing on the 1-month
anniversary of a mass shooting in an Orlando gay nightclub, the
Pulse, where 49 people died and dozens were injured.
“This hearing is deeply hurtful to a
still grieving LGBT and allied community,” Jim Obergefell told
Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in
the 2015 Supreme Court case that led to nationwide same-sex marriage.
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)
was introduced on June 17, 2015 by Republican Senators Mike Lee of
Utah and Paul Labrador of Idaho as a response to the high court's
ruling. It seeks to bar federal “discriminatory action” against
those who oppose such unions based on a “religious belief or moral
“The Federal Government shall not
take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially
on the basis that such person believes or acts in a religious belief
or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the
union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly
reserved to such a marriage,” the bill states.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
called the hearing “a disgrace to our nation.”
“Exactly one month after 49 people
were murdered in Orlando, House Republicans are convening a hearing
on a bill that would use American tax dollars to discriminate against
LGBT families and other Americans. House Republicans' shameful
anti-LGBT bigotry is a disgrace to our nation, especially during this
time of national mourning,” she said in a statement.
Former Congressman Barney Frank, who
married his husband, Jim Ready, in 2012 while he was a member of the
House, also testified at the hearing.
Frank said that the bill was “an
expression of anti GLBT prejudice” in his opening statement.
The American Principles Project and the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM) are among the groups
lobbying Congress to move on the legislation.