In the last congressional session, Rep. Glenn Thompson co-sponsored the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill exempting those with religious objections to same-sex marriage from penalties when they violate non-discrimination laws and regulations.
The Republican leadership has promised to reintroduce the bill. We met with Thompson in mid-April — two months after our request — to share our serious concerns about this bill and ask about his intentions. The bill purports to protect religious freedom but instead gives preference to particular religious beliefs (opposition to same-sex marriage) over other beliefs, thus violating the First Amendment prohibition against elevating one religion over others.
Furthermore, it makes no provision for protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ individuals, thus giving unfair preference to some Americans at the expense of others. This unbalanced, discriminatory legislation is out of step with the majority of Americans who support both same-sex marriage and LGBTQ civil rights.
Although Rep. Thompson was pleasant, took notes and asked questions, we left dismayed by the results of the meeting. He indicated he would not co-sponsor the bill again, but is likely to vote for it, offering only sympathy for its negative effects on LGBTQ individuals instead of protection.
Given only 15 minutes for our meeting, we left some unanswered questions in writing and requested a response. After six weeks and several follow-up calls, we are still waiting for that response.
Thompson’s support of this discriminatory law is disheartening, and his lack of responsiveness is disrespectful.