Blog Post

Why We Need the Marriage & Religious Freedom Act

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Anyone wondering why America needs a new law protecting people who support traditional marriage from discrimination need only look at one of the most recent cases of a person being fired from his job simply for opposing same-sex marriage.

Breitbart News is reporting on the story of Fox Sports broadcaster Craig James who was recently fired from his job because he opposes same-sex marriage. James, a former NFL running back who formerly worked for ESPN and CBS, was hired August 30 as part of a studio analysis team for Fox College Saturday. However, days later, he was abruptly fired for statements he made last year during his failed Senate bid in Texas  about his support for traditional marriage.

“People choose to be gay,” James said during an April 2012 campaign appearance. “I think it’s a choice, I do. Same-sex marriage, if someone chooses to do that, that’s done. And God’s going to judge each one of us in this room for our actions. And in that case right there, they’re going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions.”

Although Fox claims they fired James because he wasn't a "good fit" and was a "polarizing figure" in the college sports community, no one is buying it.

James is now threatening the company to either rehire him or face a civil lawsuit, and he's got plenty of lawyers behind him.

Matt Shaheen, commissioner of Collin County, Texas, sent a letter to Fox Sports protesting the termination, calling it "contrary to the principle of religious freedom."

"Beyond the fact that your actions violate United States law and breach your contract with Mr. James, you are showing a lack of respect for religious liberty to the community I represent," Shaheen wrote.  "I want to strongly encourage you to return Craig James to his on-air position at FSSW, otherwise, I stand willing and able to ensure the citizens of Collin County and your advertisers are fully aware of your religious bigotry and the many other options they have to view sports in our region."

Liberty Institute's general counsel Jeffrey Mateer, who is representing James,  also sent a letter to the company saying that his client's termination “raises serious issues” of religious discrimination, “unlawful disparagement” of James’ character, “malicious interference” with his employment and “unlawful termination.”

He added that James' views on same-sex marriage were very personal and were based upon sincerely held religious beliefs. "These views are not part of sports or sports broadcasting, and Mr. James has not and never would discuss his personal faith on the air or in his employment capacity, and FSSW and Fox Sports knew this when they hired Mr. James and they know it now.”

The James case is only one example of how people who believe in traditional marriage are being victimized by supporters of same-sex marriage. Business owners such as photographers, bakers and others involved in the wedding industry have increasingly become targets.

Some lawmakers now fear that after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for same-sex marriage in two major rulings handed down in June, the federal government may also become involved in discriminating against traditional marriage supporters in the same way that they targeted conservative groups through the IRS.

For this reason, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) was introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). The new law “ensures that any religious institution, organization or church that believes that marriage should continue to remain between one man and one woman will not be discriminated against by the federal government.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, gave their strong support for the Act.

“This non-discrimination bill is significant, indeed, very important,” said Archbishop Cordileone. “It would prevent the federal government from discriminating against religious believers who hold to the principle that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. This is of fundamental importance, as increasingly such individuals and organizations are being targeted for discrimination by state governments – this must not spread to the federal government.”

Archbishop Lori agreed and added, “I strongly support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, this Act is an important step in preserving their religious liberties at the federal level.”

He added: “Among the many protections in this bill, the federal government would not be able to deny individuals and organizations a grant, contract, or employment because their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman is informed by their religious faith."

Both Archbishop Cordileone and Archbishop Lori are urging members of the House of Representatives to join in supporting the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.

Click here for more information on the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.

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