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Palmer: Govt. can’t take away tax-exempt status of churches that oppose gay marriage

Image c/o Flickr user Ryan Polei
Image c/o Flickr user Ryan Polei

WASHINGTON — Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL6) signed on to co-sponsor the The First Amendment Defense Act introduced in both the Senate and House on Wednesday. 

The legislation, written by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), would make it unlawful for for the government to penalize an individual, association or business for their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion as our first right. Indeed, the freedom to live according to the dictates of one’s own conscience is the reason the pilgrims came to this country centuries ago. It is a right given to us, not by government, but by God,” Palmer said in a press release Thursday.

The bill was created to help underscore the First Amendment rights of citizens who do not wish to support same-sex marriage. For example, the bill prohibits the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of a church that does not wish to preform same-sex marriages. Language in the bill also states that the government may not refuse a grant, contract, license, or certification to those who support traditional marriage.

“I oppose efforts to redefine Marriage. However, should the courts or any state decide differently, the millions of Americans who believe Marriage is between one man and one woman should not be discriminated against or penalized. The definition of marriage preexists government and for millions of Americans it is a religious union.” said Palmer.

In 2013, an Oregon couple was sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, they are now being fined $135,000 in damages.

This bill comes as the country waits a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of state same-sex marriage bans. Pastors and individuals across the nation, including the 50,000 who have signed a Defend Marriage petition are prepared to stand up for their right to perform these services that they feel would violate their religious beliefs.

“Religious freedom is at the heart of what it means to be an American,” Labrador said. “America set the standard for upholding freedom of belief and worship in a diverse society. No American should ever doubt these protections enshrined in the First Amendment. Our bill ensures that the federal government does not penalize Americans for following their religious beliefs or moral convictions on traditional marriage.”

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