Republicans push bill to protect groups from discrimination over traditional marriage beliefs

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A largely Republican group of congressmen are pushing for anti-discrimination legislation to protect organizations that believe in traditional marriage.

Idaho Republican Raul Labrador introduced the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” Thursday, aimed at shielding groups that define marriage as between “one man and one woman” from discrimination through the federal tax code.

“My main concern is how can we protect religious institutions and churches, individuals who actually have a belief in traditional marriage, from discrimination from the federal government,” Labrador told The Daily Caller. “From all of a sudden the federal government saying, hey, ‘Because you have these traditional views, you’re no longer going to receive contracts, you’re no longer going to receive tax-exempt status.’”

The Idaho congressman explained that following the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act — thereby granting gay couples the same benefits granted to traditionally married couples — his concern has been tolerance for people who do not believe in same-sex marriage.

Labrador explained that there have already been examples of the discrimination at the state level, noting a recent attempt in California to revoke the tax-exempt status of non-profits like the Boy Scouts that do not allow gay members.

The bill has 62 co-sponsors including two Democrats — North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre and Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski. According to Labrador, the issue should not be controversial, as the bill does not take a stance on marriage, but rather affirms that the federal government cannot discriminate on the basis of an individual’s belief.

In a statement, Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise noted that there has been a recent history of the federal government targeting groups on the basis of their beliefs.

“As we’ve seen with the IRS scandals, nonprofit organizations and those who support them may be targeted and punished for their beliefs and principles,” said Scalise.  “Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage may embolden those in government who want to impose their views of marriage on faith-based organizations.”

While the legislation would likely protect more right-leaning groups, Labrador added, the bill could have bipartisan support.

“It’s a very narrow piece of legislation, which I think actually has a chance to pass because we can have Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives. You know, the whole political spectrum can get behind this,” Labrador said.

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