Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Do No Harm Act, which would amend the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, to prohibit the granting of RFRA exemptions that would cause third-party harm. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:
This legislation restores the proper balance of religious liberty and the civil and legal rights that were intended to be codified and preserved by the original Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Religious freedom has always been a cherished American value, which is why it was enshrined in the Constitution and enjoys additional protections under federal law. But the meaning of religious freedom is now being twisted to impose beliefs and limit the rights of others. Across the United States, the nation is seeing an overly broad interpretation of RFRA being used to license and subsidize discrimination, deny critical healthcare, justify the violation of child welfare protections, and undermine equal protections under the law.
Preventing RFRA from being used to impose beliefs or cause harm reflects progressive values. The Do No Harm Act helps ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people; women; children; and other populations who are especially vulnerable to the abuse of religious liberty claims can live their lives without fear of discrimination, harm, or being forced to follow the religious beliefs of others. Furthermore, this amendment guarantees that RFRA cannot be used to deny goods or services to the beneficiaries that are served by government contracts and grants. I commend the efforts of Rep. Joseph Kennedy and Rep. Bobby Scott to restore an inclusive, balanced interpretation of religious liberty in America.
- Advancing Progressive Religious Liberty in 2016 by Carolyn Davis
- Restoring the Balance: A Progressive Vision of Religious Liberty Preserves the Rights and Freedoms of All Americans by Carolyn Davis, Laura E. Durso, and Carmel Martin, with Donna Barry, Billy Corriher, Sharita Gruberg, Jeff Krehely, Sarah McBride, Ian Millhiser, Anisha Singh, and Sally Steenland
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