Booker reintroduces legislation banning discrimination in the name of religion
Do No Harm Law would prohibit individuals and businesses from using religion to deny the civil rights of others
Washington DC. – Today, US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reintroduced the Do no harm, legislation to restore the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) original intent and prohibit individuals and businesses from using religion to deny the civil rights of others. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced this legislation earlier this year in the United States House.
In response to the 1990 Supreme Court case, Division of Employment c. Smith, which excused discriminatory practices against American Indians, Congress passed the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) in 1993, expanding the protection of civil rights for religious minorities. However, decades of systematic efforts by some organizations and companies and the 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Burwell Entrance Hall c. Hobby (who argued that the RFRA requires that private companies with religious opposition to contraception be exempt from the Contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act) co-opted the original intent of the law and turned it into a license to discriminate legally and impose religious beliefs on others.
“Freely exercising your religion should not mean depriving others of their civil rights” said Senator Booker. “The Do no harm right the wrong of the Supreme Court, restoring the prudent balance of the First Amendment while protecting both religious freedom and ensure that the law and religious beliefs cannot be used to deprive people of their right to live free from discrimination.
âWhen Congress passed the Restoration of Religious Freedom Act in 1993, it was intended to protect religious exercise, not to erode civil rights under the guise of religious freedom. Unfortunately, we have seen RFRA used repeatedly to attack civil rights protections, deny access to health care, and allow discrimination in federal contracts and programs. The Do No Harm Act simply provides that the RFRA cannot be used to limit access to health care, deny services funded by taxpayer dollars, or undermine civil rights law or other anti- discrimination. Congress must take this crucial step to ensure that no one can militarize religious freedom to erode our basic civil and legal rights â, said Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03).
More precisely, the Do no harm would prevent the RFRA from being used to deny:
- Laws on protection against discrimination or the promotion of equal opportunities, including the Civil Rights Law of 1964 and other laws;
- Protections in the workplace or protections against child abuse;
- Access to health care, information, referrals, arrangements, coverage or services to which people are otherwise legally entitled;
- Services that the government has contracted to be provided to beneficiaries through a government contract, grant or cooperation agreement; and
- Accommodation or other benefits and services provided by the government.
“The Do No Harm law will respect the founding principle of our country’s religious freedom, namely that everyone has the freedom to believe as they see fit, but our laws do not allow anyone to use their religious beliefs to harm others. . said Rachel Laser, President and CEO of American United. âWe thank Senator Cory Booker, a leader with a long history of implementing faith and values, for sponsoring this crucial legislation. “
âReligious freedom is a fundamental American value, enshrined in our constitution. The law on the restoration of religious freedom was instituted to guard against charges imposed on religious minorities which interfere with the practice of their faith â, said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of the Human Rights Campaign for Politics and Political Affairs. âLawmakers and anti-equality activists have distorted RFRA’s original intention to achieve political goals and remove hard-earned non-discrimination and safety protections from marginalized communities, including LGBTQ + people. The Do No Harm law will remedy this misinterpretation and prevent the militarization of the RFRA. “
âIt has never been more important to make it clear that religious freedom is not a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, those seeking reproductive health care or those belonging to minority faith groups. We see religion being used to distract people from housing, health care, education and work. There should be no room for this harmful discrimination in our country and in our laws â, said Ian Thompson, senior legislative advisor at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The following Senators have co-sponsored this legislation: Whitehouse (D-RI), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Merkley (D-OR), Klobuchar (D-MN), Feinstein (D-CA), Blumenthal (D-CT) , Gillibrand (D-NY), Padilla (D-CA), Murphy (D-CT), Duckworth (D-IL), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Hirono (D-HI), Durbin (D-IL), Van Hollen (D-MD), Coons (D-DE), Stabenow (D-MI), Carper (D-DE), Sanders (I-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Brown (D-OH), Menendez (D-NJ), Baldwin (D-WI), Reed (D-RI), Markey (D-MA), Warren (D-MA), Murray (D-WA), LujÃ¡n (D-NM) and Rosen (D-NV).
The full text of approved organizations can be viewed here.
The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.
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