Sup­port re­li­gious-ob­jec­tor bill

The Washington Times Weekly - - Letters To The Editor - Washington KATH­LEEN STEAMER State Col­lege, Penn­syl­va­nia

Should civil ser­vants, as a con­di­tion of hold­ing public of­fice, be com­pelled to give up their prin­ci­ples of faith on mar­riage? Ti­tle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 re­quires all em­ploy­ers — in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment — to grant con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors with rea­son­able re­li­gious ac­com­mo­da­tions, pro­vided that do­ing so does not cause un­due hard­ship for the em­ployer.

North Carolina leads the na­tion in the de­ci­sion to strike a bal­ance be­tween re­li­gion and equal pro­tec­tion. It al­lows civil ser­vants to opt out of of­fi­ci­at­ing or is­su­ing li­censes for same-sex mar­riages if do­ing so would re­quire them to vi­o­late their re­li­gious be­liefs. It also pro­tects them from be­ing sub­jected to dis­ci­plinary ac­tion. How­ever, it in­cludes pro­vi­sions to en­sure that all cou­ples al­lowed to legally marry are able to ob­tain mar­riage li­censes, and that of­fi­cials are able to of­fi­ci­ate le­gal mar­riages for these cou­ples.

As a di­verse na­tion, we need to ex­er­cise tol­er­ance and re­spect for our fel­low Amer­i­cans — Chris­tians, Mus­lims, Bud­dhists, Hin­dus and those of con­science who dis­agree with same-sex mar­riage. The U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion, per­se­cu­tion and im­pris­on­ment of in­di­vid­u­als with sin­cerely held re­li­gious be­liefs, or those who wish to ex­er­cise rights of con­science.

Amer­i­cans should con­tact their mem­bers of Congress and ask them to sup­port the First Amend­ment De­fense Act (H.R. 2802), which seeks to man­date that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment legally re­spect the rights of in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions wish­ing to act in ac­cor­dance with re­li­gious be­liefs by leav­ing in place the fed­eral funds granted to these en­ti­ties.

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