Several Republican presidential candidates have pledged their support for a bill aimed at protecting the free-speech rights of religious dissenters who support and defend natural marriage. The measure has been described as "a pivotal issue" in the upcoming presidential campaign.
American Principles in Action, along with Heritage Action for America and Family Research Council Action, believe that religious liberty will be a central issue in the 2016 campaign. They have invited all the presidential candidates to sign a pledge to push for passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) (H.R. 2802) and sign it into law during their first 100 days in office.
FADA, which was introduced in the House by Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in June, has more than 150 co-sponsors. Its stated purpose is "to prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage." A similar Senate bill (S. 1598) was simultaneously introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Maggie Gallagher, a senior fellow at American Principles in Action, spoke with OneNewsNow about the objective of FADA.
"That's the most important step we can do to prevent the Left from redefining Christian views on sex and marriage as a form of racism that the government can punish," she says of the legislation. "It's a simple bill: it says basically the federal government can't punish you in any way."
Gallagher, who expects FADA will be "a pivotal issue" in 2016, reports good news about the responses thus far from presidential hopefuls.
"Two out of three of the top [GOP] candidates in the country – Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – agreed that they would prioritize and push the First Amendment Defense Act," she shares. "Donald Trump, unfortunately, refused to make that commitment – although he did say he would sign it if Congress passes it."
Other Republicans who signed the agreement were Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, like Trump, didn't sign the pledge but expressed public support. As of last week, no response had been received from Chris Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore.
The Republican National Committee has urged Congress to pass the First Amendment Defense Act.