I was reading various articles about reproductive rights on my laptop while I listened to Queen when I saw an article about a legislation that targeted single mothers and gay people. Then I clicked on it and read it and did my intense research on the whole subjection. Honestly, I was disguised by the fact that many people in Congress wanted to control women’s bodies and those who oppose gay people getting married. Our country has come so far in women’s rights and rights for gay people only to have such a legislation even being talked about?
This legislation is called the First Amendment Defense Act and is a response to the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. This legislation targets single mothers because if this legislation is passed, employers are allowed to fire single women who have become pregnant out of wedlock. How sick is that? Worst of all, this bill allows the federal government ”protects” the rights of those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds and discriminate against gays, bisexual and transgender people in public places.
Here is an excerpt from Huffington Post:
In wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Republicans are pushing legislation that aims to protect Americans who oppose these unions on religious grounds. But critics say the language is so broad, the bill creates a license to discriminate that would let employers fire women for getting pregnant outside of wedlock.
The First Amendment Defense Act prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person — which is defined to include for-profit corporations — acting in accordance with a religious belief that favors so-called traditional marriage. This means the feds can’t revoke a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status or end a company’s federal contract over this issue.
The bill specifically protects those who believe that marriage is between “one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” Ian Thompson, a legislative representative at the American Civil Liberties Union, said that in addition to targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the bill “clearly encompasses discrimination against single mothers” and would hobble the ability of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal body that protects women from sex-based discrimination, to act.
This scenario isn’t merely hypothetical. There are a number of recent cases where religious schools have fired unwed teachers for becoming pregnant. A Montana Catholic school teacher who was fired for having a baby out of wedlock, for example, filed a discrimination charge last year with the EEOC. While the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized a ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws, that exception is somewhat limited, not necessarily covering educators employed by Catholic schools who teach about exclusively secular subjects.
James Ryan, a spokesman for the EEOC, said the commission could not comment on pending legislation in Congress.
At a press conference on Thursday, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who authored the House bill, strongly denied that it could be used this way. “It’s just allowing people to continue to believe the way they do,” he told The Huffington Post.
His colleague, Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) said, “We’re not going to try to dance on the head of a pin here. This legislation protects an institution based on its sincerely held religious beliefs from persecution.”
When NPR asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who introduced the companion Senate bill, about a hypothetical university firing an unmarried woman for having sex out of wedlock, he said, “There are colleges and universities that have a religious belief that sexual relations are to be reserved for marriage” and they “ought to be protected in their religious freedom.”
The legislation is picking up steam, with pressure reportedly mounting on GOP leaders to call a vote this month on the bill. When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked on Thursday what he thinks of the bill and whether he’ll bring it to the floor, he said, “The Supreme Court’s decision on marriage raises a lot of other questions and a number of members have concerns about the issues it raises.” He added, “No decision has been made on how best to address these.”
Thompson said that this isn’t the only problem with the bill. He said it would eviscerate anti-discrimination protections for LGBT federal contractors signed into law by President Barack Obama last year and allow federal grantees to turn away LGBT people from homeless shelter services or drug treatment programs. Comparing it to a religious freedom bill in Indiana that faced national backlash, he said, “This bill is Indiana on steroids.”
What does this mean for women especially Black women and LGBT people?
First of all, if this bill is ever implemented into law, unmarried women who become pregnant can be hired from their employer. To me, that is unfair because businesses and corporations shouldn’t discriminate against women who choose to have children outside of wedlock. What about the men who impregnate these women? It seems like it places all of the blame on women who become pregnant outside of wedlock but don’t hold the men accountable for getting the woman pregnant. I am aware that there are religious institutions that believe that women shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage but many of these institutions have been sued by women who have given birth to children out of wedlock. To me, this is just upholding patriarchy and misogyny.
Second of all, if this bill is ever implemented into law, unmarried women who have children will have less opportunities to find work and even be hired by companies that uphold such beliefs. It is hard enough for single mothers to find work but this bill will make it even harder for them to find a job that would hire them. Worst of all, this bill becoming a law will spell disaster for African American women. African American women conceive and give birth to children out of wedlock at the rate of seventy two percent. And in some Black residential areas, the out of wedlock rate if close to one hundred percent. So if this bill was implemented into law, many Black women will find themselves even having a harder time to find job due to the bill discrimination of having children out of wedlock as well as racial and gender disparities. This will only worsen single mothers’ plight when it comes to finding work especially single, Black mothers .
LGBT people are also targeted in this bill. If this bill is passed, gays will be denied access to homeless shelters and the right to adopt children. Even children who are in foster care will be denied access to abortion clinics and contraception. And this law supposedly protects the right of those who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman and protects the rights of people who oppose such unions on religious grounds. There isn’t anything wrong with holding religious beliefs and opposing gay marriage however to impose your beliefs on others and discriminate against others is wrong.
Ultimately, First Amendment Defense Act only promotes patriarchy, discrimination and government control over women’s reproductive system. Thus I am disguised by this legislation and any woman out there should be disguised by such a horrendous measure to that seeks to control how women and others live their lives.