Senator Thad Cochran co-sponsors bill 'protecting religious libe - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Senator Thad Cochran co-sponsors bill 'protecting religious liberty'

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran is joining several senate Republicans in supporting legislation, which his office says will allow individuals and organizations to act in accordance with their personal and religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

Back in May, The United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states in a 5-4 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

Since the justices’ decision, several conservative politicians have expressed concerns that individuals and companies may be penalized for their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

In the majority opinion of Obergefell, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that the separation of church and state, leaves the decision of whether to perform wedding ceremonies for LGBT couples at a church's discretion.

Now, many are asking if the ruling will affect religious-affiliated institutions such as universities, which exercise a similar viewpoint.

Several Christian colleges belonging to the Council for Christian Colleges and University prohibit students from being in same-sex relationships as part of their moral clause. 

Supporters of religious freedom bills fear a scenario where these colleges could lose federal funding or their tax-exempt status for taking such a stance.

The legislation Cochran has co-sponsored would prohibit the federal government from denying tax exemptions, federal grants, contracts, accreditation or licensing based on a person’s or organization’s belief in what the senator calls “the traditional definition of marriage.” 

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.”

Right now, the legislation is in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it awaits further action.

The bill is also co-sponsored by fellow Mississippi Senator Rodger Wicker along with 30 senate Republicans including G-O-P presidential candidates, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

At the state level, Mississippi already has The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows businesses the right to refuse service based on religious objections.

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