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‘Defense’ act comes back

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U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee announced earlier this month that they plan to reintroduce a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), according to NBC News.

At one point, the bill was unable to get a hearing due to opposition from Democrats, but now it's more likely to succeed due to a Republican-controlled congress, and Trump has pledged to sign FADA if passed by Congress.

The bill would overturn one of former President Barack Obama’s executive orders, which ordered employment protection for LGBTQ+ and transgender federal or federally-contracted employees, according to LGBTQ Nation.

The FADA prohibits the federal government from taking "discriminatory action" against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ+ people, according to Congress.gov.

The act aims to protect the right of businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people if they have an established religious or moral conviction that, as the bill states, "(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage,” also according to Congress.gov

“FADA allows individuals and businesses to sue the federal government for interfering in their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and it would mandate the Attorney General defend the businesses,” according to NBC News.

Mississippi passed a similar law, HB 1523, which is nearly identical to FADA, as it allows people and businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people.

The 2016 state law was blocked by a judge, and the case has gone to a higher court after a federal court ruled it in violation of the federal Equal Protection and Establishment Clauses, according to NBC News.

Some politicians suspect that if this law passes, it will be heavily challenged in court with legal precedent to support it.

However, if the bill does pass, it could have devastating results on the LGBTQ+ community across the country and here at home, according to some.

Several UC students and members of the university’s LGBTQ Center commented on how the bill might affect students on campus.

Julia Draznin, a second-year entrepreneurship and marketing student, and Ariel Shaw, a first-year women’s gender and sexuality student, said that they know some students will be outraged, hurt and upset, and even worried that “it might inspire companies to put up anti-LGBTQ signs,” said Draznin.

Warren Davidson, also a women’s gender and sexuality studies student, mentioned that because of rising awareness and acceptance, refusing to serve LBGTQ+ people might cause people to boycott businesses, causing them to close. He recalled a similar incident that occurred in his hometown.

Regardless, it seems that if the bill passes, it could be met with great opposition, and the students at UC’s LGBTQ Center predicted that protests, boycotts and equality activism would only increase.

The LGBTQ+ community and its many allies remain optimistic as more information about FADA surfaces.