Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB2164
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Full Text of SB2164  99th General Assembly




State of Illinois
2015 and 2016


Introduced 7/28/2015, 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.
14    In this Act:
15        "Discriminatory action" means any action taken by the
16    State to:
17            (1) alter in any way the State tax treatment of, or
18        cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed
19        against, or deny, delay, or revoke an exemption from
20        taxation under any State law or ordinance of, any
21        person;
22            (2) disallow a deduction for State tax purposes of
23        any charitable contribution made to or by any person;
24            (3) withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate, or
25        otherwise deny any State grant, contract, subcontract,



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



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1beliefs and moral convictions.
2    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State
3shall not take any discriminatory action against a person,
4wholly or partially on the basis that the person believes or
5acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction
6that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one
7man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly
8reserved to such a marriage.
9    (b) The State shall consider accredited, licensed, or
10certified for purposes of State law any person that would be
11accredited, licensed, or certified, respectively, for these
12purposes but for a determination against the person wholly or
13partially on the basis that the person believes or acts in
14accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that
15marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and
16one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to
17such a marriage.
18    Section 15. Judicial relief.
19    (a) A person may assert an actual or threatened violation
20of this Act as a claim or defense in a judicial or
21administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages,
22injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other
23appropriate relief against the State.
24    (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action
25under this Section may be commenced, and relief may be granted,



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1without regard to whether the person commencing the action has
2sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.
3    (c) If the person's claim or defense prevails, the person
4shall be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
5    (d) The Attorney General may bring an action for injunctive
6or declaratory relief to enforce compliance with this Act.
7Nothing in this subsection (d) shall be construed to deny,
8impair, or otherwise affect any right or authority of the
9Attorney General, the State, or any agency, officer, or
10employee of the State, acting under any law other than this
11subsection, to institute or intervene in any proceeding.
12    Section 20. Rules of construction.
13    (a) This Act shall be construed in favor of a broad
14protection of free exercise of religious beliefs and moral
15convictions, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of
16this Act and the federal and State Constitution.
17    (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt State
18law, that is equally or more protective of free exercise of
19religious beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act
20shall be construed to narrow the meaning or application of any
21State or federal law protecting free exercise of religious
22beliefs and moral convictions. Nothing in this Act shall be
23construed to prevent the State from providing, either directly
24or through a person not seeking protection under this Act, any
25benefit or service authorized under State law.