Senator Lee Introduces ‘Marriage and Religious Freedom’ Bill

(KCPW News) Utah’s Senator Mike Lee joined eleven other lawmakers on Thursday to introduce legislation to “protect religious organizations from discrimination by the federal government,” for not recognizing gay marriage.

According to a press release by Lee’s office the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would “bar the government from denying any person or group tax exempt status for exercising their religious conscience rights.”

A companion bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives and by Rep. Raul Labrador and has 92 cosponsors.

But some gay rights advocates say the bill would lead to greater discrimination. According to an article in the online journal The New Civil Rights Movement, the bill would “make it legal for any individual, business, and any religious institution to discriminate against a person who is LGBT, who is in a same-sex marriage, or even any person who engages in pre-marital sex.”

In a statement in his press release, Senator Lee argued for religious freedom.

“Those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage deserve respect and tolerance. It is critical that we clarify the law to ensure that their fundamental civil liberties are not at risk.”

After the Supreme Court struck downt he DOMA earlier this year, President Obama addressed the concerns implicit in Lee’s bill. His statement on the DOMA ruling reads, in part, “how religious institutions define and concecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions.”