American bishops have praised a recent bill in the House of Representatives that would protect those who share the Church’s understanding of marriage from penalties by the federal government.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act was introduced in the lower
chamber of Congress on Sept. 19 by Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho).
“I strongly support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” said
Archbishop William W. Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the U.S. bishops'
committee for religious liberty, in a Sept. 20 statement.
“In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and
organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one
woman, this Act is an important step in preserving their religious
liberties at the federal level.”
Labrador explained that his bill would “ensure tolerance for individuals
and organizations that affirm traditional marriage, protecting them
from adverse federal action.”
The legislation would prohibit the federal
tax code from targeting groups and individuals who act upon their
conscience in defining marriage as an institution between one man and
These protections would extend to both non-profit and for-profit
organizations, but would only take effect on the national level, meaning
that states could still penalize those who define marriage as a union
of a man and a woman.
Religious freedom concerns in connection with marriage have been
increasing for months, amid mounting lawsuits against those who object
to a redefinition of marriage. Photographers, bed-and-breakfast owners
and bakers have been among those facing large fines or jail time for
adhering to their religious beliefs on marriage.
agencies have been forced to close in several states that have redefined
marriage, due to their policy of placing children only in homes with a
mother and father.
Archbishop Lori explained that alongside other protections in the bill,
“the federal government would not be able to deny individuals and
organizations a grant, contract, or employment because their belief that
marriage is the union of one man and one woman is informed by their
“This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important,”
added Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of
the U.S. bishops' committee for the promotion of marriage.
“It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against
religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union
of one man and one woman. “
“This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and
organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state
governments – this must not spread to the federal government.”
Both archbishops have asked that members of the House of Representatives support the bill.