The Human Rights Campaign Celebrates the Reintroduction of the Do No Harm Act in the 118th Congress

by Kendall Kalustyan

Today, HRC celebrates the reintroduction of Do No Harm Act in the 118th Congress.

When passed into law more than two decades ago, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was designed to protect minority religious groups' constitutional right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. Despite this straightforward intent, individuals and businesses have distorted RFRA into a blank check to discriminate or to impose their religious beliefs on others.

The Do No Harm Act would ensure that religious freedom is used as a shield to protect the constitutional right to free exercise of religion, rather than a sword to discriminate. The bill would simply restore RFRA to its originally intended purpose.

RFRA has been used against the LGBTQ+ community to:

  • Deny access to healthcare including birth control and HIV prevention medication.

  • Undermine non discrimination policies in the workplace and social services.

  • Allow taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to turn away prospective LGBTQ+ parents.

Furthermore, in August 2016, a federal judge in Michigan, in the case EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, ruled in favor of a Detroit-based funeral home who fired a transgender employee due to her gender identity. The judge stated that RFRA could be used as a defense in a sex discrimination claim under Title VII, exempting the employer from Title VII's non-discrimination requirements.

HRC calls upon Members of Congress to cosponsor the Do No Harm Act, which has received broad support with more than 100 LGBTQ+, civil rights, reproductive rights, health, labor, and faith groups having endorsed the bill.

The bill was introduced this week, in the House of Representatives by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05), and Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), and in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

To learn more about the Do No Harm Act, see HRC’s legislative fact sheet:

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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