WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that, as part of her fight to protect the District of Columbia’s right to self-government, as well as LGBT and reproductive rights in D.C., she would introduce a bill to end the unique applicability of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to the District. RFRA, which provides more protection for religious exercise than the First Amendment, applies to the federal government, D.C. government and the territorial governments, but not state governments.
“While originally well-intentioned, RFRA has been turned on its head, as evidenced by the Hobby Lobby decision,” Norton said. “RFRA was designed as a shield to protect religious freedom, but is now being used as a sword to discriminate against the LGBT community and women. Indeed, Republicans in Congress have used RFRA as a justification for trying to overturn D.C. antidiscrimination laws. Whatever its use, RFRA should not be applied to the District of Columbia government. RFRA does not apply to the states and, therefore, should not apply to the District.”
House Republicans have voted three times since 2015 to nullify or block D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and their families based on reproductive health decisions, claiming, in part, that it violates RFRA. Yet, it appears no one has challenged RHNDA’s legality under RFRA in court.