Legislation has been brought to Congress that could protect LGBTQ communities and other minority groups from religious discrimination. Today, according to a press release, Representatives Joseph Kennedy, Bobby Scott, and Senator Kamala Harris reintroduced the Do No Harm Act, a bill that would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act so that “no one can seek religious exemption from laws guaranteeing fundamental civil and legal rights.”
When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 1993, it was designed to protect the expression of religious minorities. Twenty years later, the RFRA has been used by private employers and businesses to discriminate against women, queer people, and, ironically, religious minorities.
In 2014, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby saw the Supreme Court rule that employers can deny women health insurance for birth control on religious grounds. Last June, in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that a Colorado baker could refuse to provide services to a gay couple. And recently, the Trump administration officially tolerated the discrimination of potential adoptive and foster parents based on religion and orientation by South Carolina child welfare agencies.
The Do No Harm Act would make the RFRA inapplicable in cases of “discrimination, child labor and abuse, wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, public accommodations, and social services provided through government contract.” It would prevent the right to religious expression from being used to restrict others’ rights.
“The freedom to worship is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights. That First Amendment guarantee should never be used to undermine other Americans’ civil rights or subject them to discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” said Senator Harris. “I’m proud to reintroduce the Do No Harm Act in the Senate to more comprehensively protect the basic rights of every American.”
In a time of growing uncertainty for all minorities in America, not the least for queer Americans, the Do No Harm Act is a sign of hope for the protection of all our civil rights.
— gary rickelman (@supercurrymax) February 28, 2019