1st AmendSenator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) introduced legislation to clarify and strengthen religious liberty protections in federal law by safeguarding those individuals and institutions who promote traditional marriage from government retaliation. There are currently 18 co-sponsors on the Senate bill and 57 co-sponsors on the House companion bill. Senator Mike Lee was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and Representation Labrador was first elected to the House in 2010. Both will be up for re-election in 2016.

The First Amendment Defense Act  (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) was introduced June 17, 2015 while everyone waits anxiously for the U S Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Does this bill protecting religious liberty mean that 75 congressmen think the Supreme Court will rule against traditional marriage and the religious groups that support marriage between a man and a woman? Or, is it time to start protecting religious liberties as they concern traditional marriage? It would be unusual for this bill to pass both the House and the Senate prior to the U S Supreme Court ruling, so the Supreme Court ruling will definitely impact the vote on this bill prohibiting federal intrusion on the rights of conscience.

According to a “press release” from Senator Lee’s office, “The First Amendment Defense Act  (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would 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. For example, the bill would prohibit the IRS from stripping a church of its tax exemption for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings.”

“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.” – See more at: http://www.teaparty.org/bill-protecting-defenders-traditional-marriage-reintroduced-congress-103689/#sthash.J6nEgVLh.dpuf

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.” “There’s a reason the right to religious liberty appears first in our nation’s Bill of Rights.

Senator Mike Lee graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and served as BYU’s Student Body President in his senior year. He graduated from BYU’s Law School in 1997 and went on to serve as law clerk to Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, and then with future Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Lee spent several years as an attorney with the law firm Sidley & Austin specializing in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and then served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Salt Lake City arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/about-mike 

Rep. Raúl Rafael Labrador was born on December 8, 1967, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The only child of a single mother, Raúl moved at age 13 to Las Vegas, where his mom worked in the hospitality industry. Though times were tough, Raúl’s mother often reminded him that if he studied, worked hard, and received a professional education, he could achieve his American Dream.

Raúl graduated from Las Vegas High School, Brigham Young University and earned his law degree from the University of Washington. Raúl was elected to the U.S. House in 2010, upsetting favored candidates in the primary and general elections