U.S. House Upholds Religious Freedom in the Nation’s Capital
Passes Resolution Disapproving Local Act That Violates Constitutionally-Protected Rights
April 30, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Archdiocese of Washington hails this evening’s historic passage of H.J. Res. 43 by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which passed the House with a vote of 228 – 192, is a resolution of disapproval pertaining to the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA). Passed and enacted by the D.C. government, RHNDA would force religious institutions and other organizations to hire or retain employees who publicly act in defiance of the mission of their employer.
Last month, the Archdiocese of Washington, along with other national and local religious institutions, faith employers, and pro-life advocacy organizations requested that the U.S. Congress pass a Resolution of Disapproval for RHNDA and also for the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA). HRAA removes conscience protections in the law and prevents religious educational institutions from operating according to the tenets of their own faith with regard to human sexuality. Both RHNDA and HRAA are unconscionable assaults upon the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association, as they subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government. These measures violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and result in discrimination against religious believers.
Despite having advocated for our constitutional rights with the District of Columbia Council throughout the legislative process, both RHNDA and HRAA were passed and the D.C. Council transmitted these two measures to the U.S. Congress on March 6, initiating a thirty-legislative-day congressional review period. The archdiocese’s appeal to the U.S. Congress to pass resolutions of disapproval to restore these constitutional rights was the only legislative recourse that remained.
The archdiocese is very grateful to the members of the U.S. House who voted for H.J. Res. 43 and for the coalition partners who have rallied to uphold religious freedom in our nation’s capital.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
CONTACT: Chieko Noguchi