Former Congressman Robert Francis O'Rourke, aka Beto, a self-given nickname in order to sound Hispanic, told a live television audience at CNN's LGBTQ town hall discussion Thursday night that any and all religious institutions would lose their tax-exemption if they did not believe in same-sex marriage. This means all mosques, temples, most Christian churches, and thousands of colleges and schools would all lose this special status if they support solely traditional marriage.
"There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us," O’Rourke told Don Lemon. "And so, as president, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans."
Video: With a tee-up from CNN's Don Lemon, Beto O'Rourke says to cheers and applause that he will target churches and any organization that doesn't fully accept the LGBTQ agenda receives "reward, no benefit, no tax break," and loses their tax-exempt status #EqualityTownHall pic.twitter.com/WQ9J0BFzsZ— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 11, 2019
Walter Olson of the Cato Institute broke down why O'Rourke's posturing is both immoral as well as illegal. Here's his Twitter thread:
"A long line of court opinions has made clear that 1) 'tax exemptions can’t be denied based on the viewpoint that a group communicates.'" "Support," the term used in the question, = viewpoint. /2 #CatoSCOTUS https://t.co/H7esvWNPbv— Walter Olson (@walterolson) October 11, 2019
Every single liberal Justice joined in defense of church autonomy in that case. Want to revoke the tax exemption of churches or religious orgs? That, you might do -- provided you revoke the exemptions of pro-gay or progressive churches on the same neutral basis. /4 #CatoSCOTUS— Walter Olson (@walterolson) October 11, 2019
In short, the position on taxation of religious institutions to which @BetoORourke just assented is both extremist and oppressive. Now it's up to the rest of us to make clear that we reject it. /5, fin— Walter Olson (@walterolson) October 11, 2019