Religious Liberty and H.R. 2802, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)

Hearing Date: July 12, 2016 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB


  • The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodgescreates uncertainty about how the ruling will affect individuals and organizations who maintain a sincerely held religious belief of moral conviction about marriage.
  • Consistent with the 1stAmendment, citizens should be free to follow their conscience without threats from the federal government for living out their beliefs. FADA protects religious liberty by safeguarding individuals and organizations from government action against them for their beliefs.
  • Discrimination against individuals and organizations for their beliefs regarding marriage has been identified at the state level. FADA is a proactive measure to ensure discrimination does not occur at the federal level.


  • To examine how the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling affects individuals who and organizations that maintain a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction about marriage.
  • To review how FADA can ensure Americans are not treated unfairly by the government for such a belief or conviction.


  • On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
  • In light of this, organizations that and individuals who maintain a traditional view of marriage are concerned the government will use the Supreme Court decision as a legal basis to discriminate against them for holding such a view of marriage and potentially jeopardize their tax-exempt status or other relationships with the government.
  • FADA was introduced by Rep. Raúl Labrador (H.R. 2802) and Senator Mike Lee (S. 1598) and has 171 cosponsors. It prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction about marriage.


Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC): “That is their [Senator Lee and Rep. Raul Labrador] intent. It is not to discriminate. In fact, if anything, it is to stop discrimination and that needs to be the underlying principle here today.”

Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH): “That is exactly why we have a First Amendment – you do not have to check your beliefs. … That’s what this country’s about.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC): “I’ll ask the same questions about Catholic churches – should they lose their tax exempt status if they won’t marry gay couples?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Mike Lee U.S. Senator Utah Document
The Honorable Raúl Labrador U.S. Congressman Idaho 1st Congressional District
The Honorable Barney Frank Former U.S. Congressman Massachusetts 4th Congressional District Document
Mr. Kelvin Cochran Former Fire Chief Atlanta Fire Department Document
Ms. Kristen Waggoner Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President, U.S. Legal Advocacy Alliance Defending Freedom Document
Mr. Matthew J. Franck, Ph.D. Appearing in Personal Capacity Document
Mr. Jim Obergefell Appearing in Personal Capacity Document
Ms. Katherine Franke Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Columbia School of Law Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Transcript Document