Even before the Supreme Court delivered a historic victory for gay rights, conservatives on Capitol Hill had begun readying themselves to protect those with the opposite mindset: Americans who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
Last week, Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Raul Labrador introduced legislation that would bar the federal government from discriminating against opponents of same-sex marriage. The bill, called the First Amendment Defense Act would mean the federal government couldn't prevent individuals, businesses, or associations from receiving grants, contracts, licenses, tax exemptions, certifications, and more.
"Our bill shields against federal intrusion without taking anything away from anyone," Labrador, an Idaho Republican, said. "In a shifting landscape, it's time that Congress proactively defend this sacred right."
This conservative response to the Supreme Court ruling has, as of Friday, netted 69 cosponsors in the House and 21 in the Senate. And it's garnered the support of Heritage Action—the campaign arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation. In a statement less than an hour after the ruling, Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham reiterated the group's belief that the bill is needed: "Now the question is whether religious liberty and the rights of conscience will be respected. Congress must pass the First Amendment Defense Act to ensure the federal government respects individuals, businesses, and organizations that wish to act in accordance with their beliefs about marriage."