An open letter on H.R.2802

Representative Hartzler,

I am a constituent in your district, and I am writing to express my concerns regarding H.R.2802, the First Amendment Defense Act.

If passed, this Act would single out same-sex couples as permissible targets for legal discrimination without federal consequence. This isn’t just about who bakes a wedding cake or rents a hall; this would provide landlords, employers, business proprietors, banks, and government employees a thin veneer of legal righteousness when engaging in active discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation against citizens of this nation who happen to be members of the LGBT community.

The rationale behind such a measure is “a wide range of views” on marriage and “maintaining our Nation’s commitment to religious freedom.” Yet by that same standard, a great many categories could come into question. There is certainly no shortage of religious debate about the legitimacy of other religions; should those who actively discriminate against Jews or Muslims or Christians be similarly enabled by federal law? What of the racial debate in this country; should we return to the day when everything from apartments to loans could be denied on the basis of the color of one’s skin? What of any of a hundred other points of debate in this country?

It is not in any way legitimate for the government of this nation to set aside a particular demographic and say, “These people? You can discriminate against them; you have our blessing.” It is contrary to any ethical interpretation of the 14th Amendment. It is contrary to the nature of this Republic, wherein we have throughout our history moved in the direction of equality rather than against it. And while religious justification has so often been claimed in support of this bill, it is contrary to the words of a certain Jesus of Nazareth, from Matthew 7:12 (“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”) to Mark 12:31 (“The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’”).

I am aware that you are a cosponsor for this bill. I ask you to rescind your sponsorship and support for this bill.

Sincerely,

Jessica L. Orsini

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