Republicans confident they will pass anti-LGBT bills after Donald Trump becomes president

The First Amendment Defense Act, which prevents people with anti-LGBT views being discriminated against, will be reintroduced and could be signed into law under Mr Trump

Rachael Revesz
New York
Monday 12 December 2016 22:39 GMT
The Trump administration has done little to assuage fears that anti-LGBT bills will be passed in 2017 under the name of 'religious freedom'
The Trump administration has done little to assuage fears that anti-LGBT bills will be passed in 2017 under the name of 'religious freedom' (Getty)

Republicans are confident that a federal bill which would protect Americans’ “right” to express anti-LGBT views will be passed shortly after Donald Trump steps into the White House.

Republican Utah senator Mike Lee told BuzzFeed that he planned to reintroduce the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) next term, and said he was confident president-elect Trump would sign it.

FADA, or HR 2802, would grant protection to individuals who opposed same-sex marriage or premarital sex.

In other words, discriminatory action could not be taken against people who discriminate against LGBT members. Discriminatory action includes denying someone tax exemptions, withholding grants or contracts or denying federal benefits.

The bill is co-sponsored by Texas senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz. He said: “The prospects for protecting religious freedom are brighter now than they have been in a long time.”

"Hopefully November’s results will give us the momentum we need to get this done next year," Conn Carroll, Lee’s spokesman, told BuzzFeed. "We do plan to reintroduce FADA next Congress and we welcome Trump’s positive words about the bill."

In North Carolina, popstars, athletes and big corporations all boycotted the state in response to an anti-LGBT bill which was signed under governor Pat McCrory. The bill is likely to be repealed under the newly elected Democratic governor, but the proposed FADA federal bill, if it came into power, would cast doubt over the legality of such a boycott.

In what is likely to be the final victory for the LGBT community under president Barack Obama, the senate declined to pass the "Russell Amendment", which would have required religious exemptions for every transaction made by the federal government under the National Defense Authorisation Act.

The Russell Amendment’s sponsor, Oklahoma representative Steve Russell, said he had received "very good assurances" from the Trump administration that similar bills would be considered in future.

The new head of the Justice Department will be Alabama senator Jeff Sessions and LGBT activists have not expressed confidence in his desire to protect them from discrimination.

Former principal deputy assistant attorney general Samuel Bagenstos wrote in a blog that the future looked bleak regarding civil rights.

"[…] there is a substantial prospect that the Civil Rights Division will take an affirmatively anti-LGBT-rights position and intervene to make religious-freedom or free-speech arguments on behalf of the defendants in LGBT discrimination cases brought under state laws," he wrote.

As Think Progress reported, LGBT people might be able to get protection within the court system. A judge recently ruled against a bill in Mississippi that was similar to the proposed FADA bill.

"A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense," said judge Carlton Reeves.

The fight for so-called religious freedom comes as ethnic minorities and Muslims are facing their highest levels of hate crime and discrimination since 2001.

Mr Trump has proposed forcing Muslims to sign a "register" or take a religious "test" to see if they abide by Shariah law. If so, former house speaker Newt Gingrich argued, they should be deported.

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