HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1624

TWENTY-SEVENTH LEGISLATURE, 2014

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to equal rights.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:


 


SECTION 1. This Act shall be known as the Hawaii Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2014.

The legislature finds that, while same sex marriage is a great advancement for human liberty, this change could have serious implications if steps are not taken to protect the liberties and equal rights of those religious organizations and believers who cannot conscientiously recognize or facilitate same-sex civil marriages. There will be no net gain for human liberty and equal rights if same-sex couples are permitted to oppress religious dissenters in the same way that those dissenters, when they had the power to do so, oppressed same-sex couples. There is no reason to let either side oppress the other. Same-sex couples should not be denied the right to marry, and the State should not force dissenting religious believers or organizations to recognize or facilitate same-sex marriage.

Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to:

(1) Protect religious freedom and liberty by ensuring that no clergy or other officer of any religious organization will be required to solemnize any marriage, in accordance with the Hawaii State Constitution and the United States Constitution; and

(2) Harmonize the right of equal protection under the law for same-sex couples with the equally important right to the free exercise of religion.

SECTION 2. The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"CHAPTER

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT

-1 Findings. (a) The legislature finds that:

(1) The authors of the Bill of Rights secured the free exercise of religion as an unalienable right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;

(2) The free exercise of religion is also guaranteed under article I, section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii;

(3) Laws neutral toward religion may substantially burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;

(4) Government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;

(5) The United States Supreme Court has virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion; and

(6) The compelling interest test in the free exercise of religion established by the United States Supreme Court is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing government interests.

(b) The legislature declares its intent that:

(1) It shall be the policy of the State that the compelling interest test in the free exercise of religion, as established by the United States Supreme Court under Shubert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), shall be the standard applicable by the courts of this State in all cases where religious exercise is substantially burdened; and

(2) This chapter shall provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.

-2 Free exercise of religion protected. (a) The State and its political subdivisions shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Neither the State nor its political subdivisions shall impose a substantial burden on a person's exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that imposition of the burden on the person both:

(1) Furthers a compelling government interest; and

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest.

(c) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a person whose religious exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the State or its political subdivisions.

(d) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the State or its political subdivisions to substantially burden the free exercise of any religious belief.

(e) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address that portion of article I, section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, prohibiting laws respecting the establishment of religion. Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under article I, section 4 of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, shall not constitute a violation of this chapter."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Established

 

Description:

Provides that government should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification; applies the compelling interest test to balance religious liberty and competing government interest.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.