DNHA would clarify the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act consistent with the original Congressional intent to protect religious freedom and not to harm marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ people.
Today, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, praised the Senate re-introduction of the Do No Harm Act (DNHA) — legislation aligning statutory language with the original intent of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — to protect religious freedom while not harming marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ people. The reintroduction of DNHA seeks to reassert the original intent of the RFRA and undo regulations and policies that have used RFRA to justify broad carve-outs to nondiscrimination protections. In February, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) introduced the bill in the U.S. House, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has now re-introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate.
RFRA, enacted in 1993 in response to a 1990 Supreme Court ruling that significantly limited the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, safeguards constitutional protections for the free exercise of religion by minority religious groups. At the time, the legislation was widely championed by a broad coalition of organizations, including civil rights groups.
In recent years, however, RFRA has been misused as a smokescreen for discrimination to bypass federal statutes and regulations meant to protect vulnerable populations from harm on a broad range of issues. The Do No Harm Act would amend RFRA to restore the original intent and prevent these harms.
DNHA would bar RFRA from being used to:
Undermine nondiscrimination laws
Deny access to healthcare
Evade child labor laws
Thwart laws that protect workers’ rights
Refuse to provide government-funded services under a contract or grant
Refuse to perform duties as a government employee
The Do No Harm Act will reestablish a balance of religious liberties, government protections, and individual rights. The legislation clarifies that RFRA is intended to protect religious freedom without allowing the infliction of harm on other people. HRC supports Sen. Cory Booker’s introduction of this legislation in the Senate and stands proudly alongside 95 LGBTQ+, civil rights, health, and faith-based groups who have called for its passage.
More information about the Do No Harm Act can be accessed on HRC’s website here.
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