Chris Christie: We shouldn’t use ‘religious freedom’ to introduce anti-LGBT laws

Republican Chris Christie has split from his party – opposing the use of ‘religious freedom’ to introduce a license to discriminate against LGBT people

The Republican National Convention recently threw its weight behind the proposed ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ – a federal law that would explicitly permit religious business owners to discriminate against LGBT people, as long as they claim God wants them to.

The law has picked up support from many of the Republican Presidential hopefuls, as they vie to pick up support from right-wing voters – but New Jersey governor Chris Christie has broken from the pack.

Christie, one of 17 Republicans in contention for the nomination, told a crowd at the Iowa State Fair today that being religious was no justification for homophobia or refusing to serve gay people.

He said: “We have a system of laws in this country, and those laws need to be followed. And the fact is, religious organisations should be protected from having to do anything that violates their religious beliefs as a religious organisation. That should be protected.

“But other businesses who want to do business, they should have to be able to do business under the laws of our country.

“When I take an oath of office as Governor, my oath of office is to enforce the laws of the state of New Jersey. Not the laws I like or the laws that I agree with, but all the laws.

“And if we don’t want to have a country of men and women but a country of laws, where everyone is treated equally, that’s what we need to do.

“Religious organisations absolutely should be protected, everyone should freely practice their religion the way they see fit – but businesses should not be allowed to discriminate, no.”

It comes after current frontrunner Donald Trump also said that people shouldn’t be fired for being gay – though he hasn’t ruled out backing the FADA.

Not a single Republican has come out in favour of the federal Equality Act – which would outlaw anti-LGBT discrimination entirely.

Christie has a somewhat confused record on LGBT rights – refusing to defend his state’s ban on same-sex marriage, before telling other governors not to refuse to defend their state’s bans on same-sex marriage.