100TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
State of Illinois
2017 and 2018
Introduced 1/11/2017, by Sen. Kyle McCarter
SYNOPSIS AS INTRODUCED:
Creates the Religious Freedom Defense Act. Prohibits the State and
local governments from taking discriminatory action against a person if the
person believes or acts under a religious belief or moral conviction that
marriage is only between one man and one woman, or that sexual relations
are properly reserved to such a marriage. Allows a person to assert a claim
or defense under the Act in a judicial or administrative proceeding for
damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or other appropriate
relief against the State or local government. Also allows the Attorney
General to seek enforcement of the Act. Defines "discriminatory action",
"person", "State benefit program", and "State".
A BILL FOR
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AN ACT concerning religious freedom.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
This Act may be cited as the
Religious Freedom Defense Act.
The General Assembly finds the following:
(1) Leading legal scholars concur that conflicts
between same-sex marriage and religious liberty are real
and should be legislatively addressed.
(2) There are as President Obama stated in response to
the decision of the United States Supreme Court on the
Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, "Americans hold a wide
range of views" on the issue of same-sex marriage, and
"maintaining our Nation's commitment to religious freedom"
(3) Nevertheless, in 2015, when asked whether a
religious school could lose its tax-exempt status for
opposing same-sex marriage, the Solicitor General of the
United States represented to the United States Supreme
Court that it is "certainly going to be an issue".
(4) Protecting religious freedom from government
intrusion is a government interest of the highest order.
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Legislatively enacted measures advance this interest by
remedying, deterring, and preventing government
interference with religious exercise in a way that
complements the protections mandated by the First
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and
Section 3 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution.
(5) Laws that protect the free exercise of religious
beliefs and moral convictions about marriage will
encourage private citizens and institutions to demonstrate
tolerance for those beliefs and convictions and therefore
contribute to a more respectful, diverse, and peaceful
In this Act:
"Discriminatory action" means any action taken by the
(1) alter in any way the State tax treatment of, or
cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed
against, or deny, delay, or revoke an exemption from
taxation under any State law or ordinance of, any
(2) disallow a deduction for State tax purposes of
any charitable contribution made to or by any person;
(3) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or
otherwise deny any State grant, contract, subcontract,
cooperative agreement, loan, license, certification,
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accreditation, employment, or other similar position
or status from or to any person;
(4) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or
otherwise deny any benefit under a State benefit
program from or to any person; or
(5) otherwise discriminate against any person.
"Person" includes corporations, companies,
associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint
stock companies, as well as individuals and includes any
person regardless of religious affiliation or lack
thereof, and regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status.
"State benefit program" means any program administered
or funded by the State, or by any agent on behalf of the
State, providing cash or in-kind assistance in the form of
payments, grants, loans, or loan guarantees to persons.
"State" means all officers, boards, commissions, and
agencies created by the Illinois Constitution, whether in
the executive, legislative, or judicial branch; all
officers, departments, boards, commissions, agencies,
institutions, authorities, universities, units of local
government, bodies politic and corporate of the State; or
administrative units or corporate outgrowths of the State
which are created by or under statute or ordinance.
Protection of the free exercise of religious
beliefs and moral convictions.
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(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State
shall not take any discriminatory action against a person,
wholly or partially on the basis that the person believes or
acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction
that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one
man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly
reserved to such a marriage.
(b) The State shall consider accredited, licensed, or
certified for purposes of State law any person that would be
accredited, licensed, or certified, respectively, for these
purposes but for a determination against the person wholly or
partially on the basis that the person believes or acts in
accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that
marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and
one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to
such a marriage.
(a) A person may assert an actual or threatened violation
of this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial or
administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages,
injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other
appropriate relief against the State.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action
under this Section may be commenced, and relief may be granted,
without regard to whether the person commencing the action has
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sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.
(c) If the person's claim or defense prevails, the person
shall be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
(d) The Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive
or declaratory relief to enforce compliance with this Act.
Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be construed to deny,
impair, or otherwise affect any right or authority of the
Attorney General, the State, or any agency, officer, or
employee of the State, acting under any law other than this
subsection, to institute or intervene in any proceeding.
Rules of construction.
(a) This Act shall be construed in favor of a broad
protection of free exercise of religious beliefs and moral
convictions, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of
this Act and the federal and State Constitution.
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt State
law, that is equally or more protective of free exercise of
religious beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act
shall be construed to narrow the meaning or application of any
State or federal law protecting free exercise of religious
beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act shall be
construed to prevent the State from providing, either directly
or through a person not seeking protection under this Act, any
benefit or service authorized under State law.