Measure Addresses Rights Issues Arising from Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today announced his support of legislation to allow individuals and organizations to act in accordance with their personal and religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

Cochran has cosponsored the First Amendment Defense Act (S.1598), a bill that would prohibit the federal government from infringing on the religious beliefs of individuals or organizations who acknowledge that marriage is between one man and one woman. Specifically, the legislation would allow religious institutions to freely choose their stance on the matter and protect them from being penalized by the government based on their beliefs.

“Religious freedom should be protected as much as other fundamental American rights,” Cochran said. “This legislation would help ensure that the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage does not in turn encroach on basic First Amendment rights and religious freedom.”

The bill, introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), aims to address religious liberty issues arising from the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which compels all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriage, regardless of the states’ duly enacted laws. The legislation Cochran has cosponsored would prohibit the federal government from denying tax exemptions, federal grants, contracts, accreditations or licensing based on a person’s or organization’s belief in the traditional definition of marriage or action taken in accordance with such belief.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it awaits further action.

S.1598 is also cosponsored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), as well as Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and David Vitter (R-La).

Sen. Thad Cochran Press Release