Author of the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” Raul Labrador has argued the bill is designed to protect religious organisations opposed to marriage equality from “discrimination” by the US government.
Labrador referred to a proposed California bill that would revoke the Boy Scouts’ tax-exempt status for discriminating against gay people.
LGBTI rights organisations have condemned the bill, with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) arguing it could be interpreted very broadly, allowing for wholesale discrimination of LGBTI people by government agencies.
“If passed, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would permit a federal worker processing tax returns, approving visa applications or reviewing Social Security applications to walk away from their responsibilities whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appeared on his or her desk,” HRC said in a statement.
“It would also allow a federally-funded homeless shelter or substance abuse treatment program to turn away LGBT people.”
HRC also said the bill would allow people with anti-LGBTI religious views to sue the federal government if they were not allowed to discriminate.