Spring may be “the time when kings go off to war.” But the D.C. government prefers winter.

Just before Christmas, the D.C. Council passed two bills that inflame the culture wars — one about abortion, the other about homosexuality. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) signed them in January and last month sent them to Congress for the mandatory congressional review. But many people are wondering if this war is necessary.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act makes it illegal for an employer to engage in what the act deems “discrimination” when it comes to “compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment” on the basis of an individual’s “reproductive health decision making” — including the “termination of a pregnancy.” In plain English, the bill could force employers in the nation’s capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion.

The D.C. government is launching an attack in the culture wars with a bill that violates the long-standing principle that the government shouldn’t force citizens to be complicit in elective abortion. Vincent C. Gray (D), who was still mayor when the act was passed, urged the council not to vote on it because it may be unconstitutional. Gray cited a review of the legislation by the Office of the Attorney General , which “deemed the legislation legally insufficient.” The mayor’s letter said, “According to the OAG, the bill raises serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Religious organizations, religiously-affiliated organizations, religiously-driven for-profit entities, and political organizations may have strong First Amendment and RFRA grounds for challenging the law’s applicability to them.”

Bowser signed the law anyway. This month, the council enacted an emergency temporary “fix,” but it is just a stalling maneuver. The temporary legislation admits the bill has a problem but fixes it for only 225 days. The city should never have passed such a legally suspect law in the first place.

The second piece of legislation is a direct assault on the religious liberty of D.C.’s religious schools. The euphemistically titled Human Rights Amendment Act rescinds the Nation’s Capital Religious Liberty and Academic Freedom Act, popularly known as the Armstrong Amendment. Passed by Congress in 1989, the Armstrong Amendment protects religious schools in the District from being coerced by the government into violating their beliefs about human sexuality by “promoting, encouraging, or condoning any homosexual act, lifestyle, orientation, or belief.”

The Armstrong Amendment has been law for more than 25 years without causing any problems. It is entirely unclear why the D.C. Council would vote — unanimously — to revoke this protection for a key human right: religious liberty. After all, many families send their children to private schools precisely to escape government moral indoctrination. It is because of these schools’ distinctive creeds that families sacrifice to send their children to private religious schools.

Revoking the Armstrong Amendment could severely infringe on religious schools’ ability to operate according to their religious beliefs. Whether we agree or disagree with these beliefs, the government should not force religious institutions to violate them.

If the D.C. government won’t respect the rights of the citizens of the District, then Congress must.

Congress should prevent these bills from going into effect and should restore pro-life conscience and religious liberty protections in the District. The Constitution empowers Congress to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District. Congress delegated some of this authority in the 1973 Home Rule Act. However, it retained authority to overrule bad policies enacted by the D.C. government.

Both houses of Congress have introduced resolutions of disapproval which, if passed by Congress and signed by the president, effectively overturn the District legislation in question. Congress can also attach riders to annual appropriations bills that provide federal funds to the District, preventing taxpayer money from being used to put a law into effect.

Congress should do this because no governmental entity should force citizens to promote or pay for abortion, or violate their beliefs that men and women are made for each other in marriage and that sexual relations are reserved for such a union.

America is going through a time of transition when it comes to beliefs about sexuality. Protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience is necessary to maintaining a principled pluralism that fosters a more diverse civil sphere — and a peaceful coexistence even amid disagreement. In a nation founded on limited government and religious freedom, government should not attempt to coerce any citizen, association, business or school into promoting or paying for abortion or celebrating same-sex relationships.

We can live and let live. There’s no need for the D.C. government to fan the flames of cultural warfare.

The writer is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.