House Republicans sent letters to protect faith-based entities from discrimination in the federal budget due to their views on traditional marriage.
The letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and sent to multiple House Appropriations Subcommittees, requests that lawmakers add text to the budget that prohibits agencies from taking discriminatory action against people or organizations on the basis of a “sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction, that marriage is, or should be recognized as, a union of one man and one woman.”
“Without this language, we fear that the federal government will begin to systematically discriminate against religious schools, faith-based organizations, and other non-profits by barring their participation in federal programs, and removing their tax-exempt status, for their views on marriage,” the lawmakers wrote. “The First Amendment is sacred. It secures the right to write, pray, think, speak, and associate as one pleases. These fundamental rights are uncontroversial and must be protected.”
Other signatories of the letter included Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL), Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ).
The call for explicit protections for religious liberty in the budget proposal comes after President Joe Biden endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, which enshrines same-sex marriage protections into federal law in accordance with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. Democratic lawmakers recruited 39 Republicans in the House and 10 Republicans in the Senate to support the bill, which was signed into law in December.
The bill also repealed the Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to legally define marriage as between one man and one woman and to permit states not to recognize same-sex unions from other states.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) repeatedly warned that the “religious liberty protections” in the Respect for Marriage Act were “severely anemic and largely illusory.” He voiced concern that religious entities could be exposed to litigation and the loss of nonprofit status under the new law.
Biden nevertheless praised the final passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, saying that “millions of marriages and families” were put at ease by the new law following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and other previous opinions purporting a constitutional right to abortion.
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The overall budget proposal offered by the Biden administration, which suggests an increase in government spending from $5.8 trillion to $6.9 trillion, is marked by a number of tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses. Households with more than $100 million in wealth would be subjected to a 25% minimum tax, while the top marginal tax rate would be increased to 39.6% from the current 37% rate. Businesses would see an increase in the corporate tax to 28%, which would split the difference between the current 21% rate and the previous 35% rate that was in effect before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus, many of whom signed the letter urging explicit protections for religious organizations, have countered the administration’s budget proposal with a framework that would establish topline discretionary spending at the fiscal year 2022 level for one decade and allow for 1% annual growth.