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Sen. Cruz: Congress Has an Opportunity to Stand For Religious Liberty

Urges colleagues to disapprove of DC Council measures that violate Bill of Rights

May 1, 2015

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released the following statement urging Congress to formally disapprove of the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA) recently passed by the District of Columbia in order to protect First Amendment rights for D.C. citizens.

"The D.C. Council has proposed two measures that trample the very rights the First Amendment was designed to protect - the right of citizens to freely practice their faith," Sen. Cruz said. "The Constitution gives Congress the authority to exercise jurisdiction over the District of Columbia ‘in all cases whatsoever.' And both the House and Senate have a constitutional duty to protect citizens' religious liberty, as enshrined in the First Amendment.

"The D.C. Home Rule Act only gives Congress a limited time to act, and Congress is running the clock to the eleventh hour. I applaud the House for passing a resolution of disapproval of RHNDA. I urge the Senate to immediately do the same, and not only vote on the House's RHNDA resolution, but also bring up a resolution of disapproval of HRAA for a vote. Protecting citizens' First Amendment rights should be a bipartisan goal, and I hope that the Republican majority in Congress seizes this opportunity to stand with religious liberty."

Sen. Cruz filed two resolutions of disapproval in March. See the original release here.

The District of Columbia's RHNDA prohibits discrimination because of a person's "reproductive health decisions" and defines those decisions to include abortion. Under RHNDA, employers with religious objections to abortion, including religious schools and pro-life groups, would be required to provide health insurance coverage for elective abortion - a requirement that the council has shown no interest in permanently amending.

Likewise, the District of Columbia's HRAA would allow fines or penalties against religious schools that sincerely believe it violates the tenets of their faith to support homosexual activities on campus. If the HRAA is not repealed, then a group of students could sue to force a private religious school to provide official recognition, facilities, and financial support for homosexual student activities on campus against the school's sincerely held religious beliefs.

Both measures would provide little to no protection for organizations and schools against lawsuits that could leave them bankrupt or force them out of the city.

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