This bill was introduced in response to the 2013 scandal revealing that the IRS was heavily scrutinizing certain groups applying for tax exemptions based on their political views. H.R. 3133 aims to protect religious organizations from facing similar scrutiny because of their beliefs.
Following the contentious passage of Proposition 8 in California, the City of San Francisco tried to collect $20 million in transfer taxes from the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco after it reorganized its assets. While the City lost its case in court, there were suggestions that the attempt at taxing the Archdiocese was politically motivated because of the church's support for Proposition 8. Supporters of this bill point to this case as an example of the kind of discrimination H.R. 3133 seeks to prevent on the federal level.
Opponents of the bill have argued that it would enable discrimination against same-sex couples, the LGBTQ community, and people who engage in pre-marital sex. By allowing organizations that view those lifestyles as immoral to keep their tax-exempt status, critics of the bill contend that the government would be promoting inequality and ignoring the inappropriate use of tax-exempt status.
President Obama just signed an executive order to protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination by their bosses. Still, detractors argue that this bill would embolden business owners to hide behind their claims to "religious freedom" and refuse service to same-sex couples or deny benefits to their LGBTQ employees. Or, that federal workers with religious beliefs against same-sex marriage would feel comfortable refusing to work on cases involving same-sex couples. Even with 21 states putting protections in place against sexual orientation discrimination, there have been countless allegations of discrimination against gay couples by business owners who cited religious beliefs as their reason for refusing service.
Sponsoring Rep. Raul Labrador’s Press Release (R-ID)
Christian Post (in support)
Think Progress (opposing)
National Review (in support)
(Photo Credit: Hatena Blog)