Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) reintroduced legislation in their respective chambers on Wednesday that would prohibit the federal government from denying tax exemptions or other government benefits to individuals and institutions that promote traditional marriage.
“Protecting religious freedom from Government intrusion is a Government interest of the highest order,” the bill states.
If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Obergefell v. Hodges that gay marriage is a constitutionally protected right, the First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would prevent the Internal Revenue Service from denying tax-exempt status to churches that refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings or from disallowing tax deductions for charitable donations to them.
The bill would also “prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” according to a press release from Lee’s office.
At a June 3 press conference announcing the legislation, Lee said that Congress needs to “draw lines around the power of government – lines that are there to protect the people from the overpowering influence of government – an overpowering influence that can, from time to time, trample on religious freedom.”