Tax Analysts Blog

Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Promotes Neither

Posted on Sep 25, 2013

A bipartisan group of lawmakers thinks it's appropriate for the American taxpayer to subsidize organizations fighting for "traditional marriage." But the sponsors aren't so much interested in perpetuating marriage between John and Mary as they are in preventing marriage between John and Jimmy. The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would give non profit organizations that don't like gay marriage the ability to engage in partisan political activities without the fear of losing their exempt status. The sponsors (Reps. Raul Labrador (R), Steve Scalise (R), Mike McIntyre (D), Daniel Lipinski (D), Joe Pitts (R), and John Fleming Jr. (R)) are touting the bill as a means of protecting freedom of conscience on the issue of marriage. They claim that their bill would prohibit discrimination through the federal tax code against individuals or institutions that exercise religious conscience regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

When politicians lose on an issue, they often turn to the tax code to address their grievances, and the anti-gay crowd has been losing in the courts and before the public on the issue of marriage equality. It turns out that people, especially young people, don't really care who consenting adults want to marry, so these members of Congress decided that organizations fighting for "tradition" need some help. The proposed law will allow section 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in political activity, as long as it's for championing heterosexual marriage, while 501(c)(3)s supporting marriage equality cannot engage in partisan political activity. No matter what you think of the issue, that is bad government and a misuse of the tax laws to further a political agenda.

The tax laws should be neutral when it comes to politics. Personally, I would end all tax exemptions for all political groups -- gay, straight, or in between. The IRS rightfully took considerable heat when it singled out conservative groups for scrutiny. But the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act isn't the answer.

Read Comments (2)

emsig beobachterSep 25, 2013

Excellent post.

E. Lynn Nichols, CPASep 27, 2013

The clear voice of reason ! Thank you.

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