State of Illinois
2017 and 2018


Introduced 1/11/2017, by Sen. Kyle McCarter


New Act

    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".

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1    AN ACT concerning religious freedom.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Religious Freedom Defense Act.
6    Section 3. Findings.
7    The General Assembly finds the following:
8        (1) Leading legal scholars concur that conflicts
9    between same-sex marriage and religious liberty are real
10    and should be legislatively addressed.
11        (2) There are as President Obama stated in response to
12    the decision of the United States Supreme Court on the
13    Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, "Americans hold a wide
14    range of views" on the issue of same-sex marriage, and
15    "maintaining our Nation's commitment to religious freedom"
16    is "vital".
17        (3) Nevertheless, in 2015, when asked whether a
18    religious school could lose its tax-exempt status for
19    opposing same-sex marriage, the Solicitor General of the
20    United States represented to the United States Supreme
21    Court that it is "certainly going to be an issue".
22        (4) Protecting religious freedom from government
23    intrusion is a government interest of the highest order.



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1    Legislatively enacted measures advance this interest by
2    remedying, deterring, and preventing government
3    interference with religious exercise in a way that
4    complements the protections mandated by the First
5    Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and
6    Section 3 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution.
7        (5) Laws that protect the free exercise of religious
8    beliefs and moral convictions about marriage will
9    encourage private citizens and institutions to demonstrate
10    tolerance for those beliefs and convictions and therefore
11    contribute to a more respectful, diverse, and peaceful
12    society.
13    Section 5. Definitions.    In this Act:
14        "Discriminatory action" means any action taken by the
15    State to:
16            (1) alter in any way the State tax treatment of, or
17        cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed
18        against, or deny, delay, or revoke an exemption from
19        taxation under any State law or ordinance of, any
20        person;
21            (2) disallow a deduction for State tax purposes of
22        any charitable contribution made to or by any person;
23            (3) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or
24        otherwise deny any State grant, contract, subcontract,
25        cooperative agreement, loan, license, certification,



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1        accreditation, employment, or other similar position
2        or status from or to any person;
3            (4) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or
4        otherwise deny any benefit under a State benefit
5        program from or to any person; or
6            (5) otherwise discriminate against any person.
7        "Person" includes corporations, companies,
8    associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint
9    stock companies, as well as individuals and includes any
10    person regardless of religious affiliation or lack
11    thereof, and regardless of for-profit or nonprofit status.
12        "State benefit program" means any program administered
13    or funded by the State, or by any agent on behalf of the
14    State, providing cash or in-kind assistance in the form of
15    payments, grants, loans, or loan guarantees to persons.
16        "State" means all officers, boards, commissions, and
17    agencies created by the Illinois Constitution, whether in
18    the executive, legislative, or judicial branch; all
19    officers, departments, boards, commissions, agencies,
20    institutions, authorities, universities, units of local
21    government, bodies politic and corporate of the State; or
22    administrative units or corporate outgrowths of the State
23    which are created by or under statute or ordinance.
24    Section 10. Protection of the free exercise of religious
25beliefs and moral convictions.



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1    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State
2shall not take any discriminatory action against a person,
3wholly or partially on the basis that the person believes or
4acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction
5that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one
6man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly
7reserved to such a marriage.
8    (b) The State shall consider accredited, licensed, or
9certified for purposes of State law any person that would be
10accredited, licensed, or certified, respectively, for these
11purposes but for a determination against the person wholly or
12partially on the basis that the person believes or acts in
13accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that
14marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and
15one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to
16such a marriage.
17    Section 15. Judicial relief.
18    (a) A person may assert an actual or threatened violation
19of this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial or
20administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages,
21injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other
22appropriate relief against the State.
23    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action
24under this Section may be commenced, and relief may be granted,
25without regard to whether the person commencing the action has



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1sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.
2    (c) If the person's claim or defense prevails, the person
3shall be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
4    (d) The Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive
5or declaratory relief to enforce compliance with this Act.
6Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be construed to deny,
7impair, or otherwise affect any right or authority of the
8Attorney General, the State, or any agency, officer, or
9employee of the State, acting under any law other than this
10subsection, to institute or intervene in any proceeding.
11    Section 20. Rules of construction.
12    (a) This Act shall be construed in favor of a broad
13protection of free exercise of religious beliefs and moral
14convictions, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of
15this Act and the federal and State Constitution.
16    (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt State
17law, that is equally or more protective of free exercise of
18religious beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act
19shall be construed to narrow the meaning or application of any
20State or federal law protecting free exercise of religious
21beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act shall be
22construed to prevent the State from providing, either directly
23or through a person not seeking protection under this Act, any
24benefit or service authorized under State law.