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Just when I started to believe that the Republicans in Congress might actually be ready to act boldly, they have betrayed us again. It’s difficult for me to determine whether I am angrier with the Democrats for proposing this deceitful bill, the Respect for Marriage Act, or with the Republicans for lining up behind them. This Act further damages and weakens our religious liberties, in particular our support of traditional marriage, and it reminds us that the Progressive Left will never stop infringing on our rights and freedoms.
So what’s the big deal? A dozen Republicans have decided that they want to cozy up to the Democrats, or are too lazy or foolish to study the real intentions of the bill, or simply don’t care:
The 12 Republicans who voted yes on Wednesday were Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Todd Young of Indiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
For anyone who wants to read the bill, go here.
Instead of subjecting churches, religious non-profits, and persons of conscience to undue scrutiny or punishment by the federal government because of their views on marriage, we should make explicitly clear that this legislation does not constitute a national policy endorsing a particular view of marriage that threatens the tax exempt status of faith-based non-profits. As we move forward, let us be sure to keep churches, religious charities, and religious universities out of litigation in the first instance. No American should face legal harassment or retaliation from the federal government for holding sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. My amendment would ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc. It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home.
Although several supporters of the bill admitted it had problems, Mike Lee’s amendment wasn’t supported. In fact, no amendments were considered, although several were submitted.
Other possible attacks on religious institutions may be on the horizon:
H.R. 8404 abandons all current limits in federal law requiring marriage to be the union of only two persons. Under H.R. 8404 all it takes is a single state to recognize a polygamous or other unusual union as a marriage and the federal government must automatically recognize it for all federal purposes, including tax deductions, welfare benefits, immigration status, and federal employee benefits.
And as outrageous as polygamous marriages may seem, they also have the potential for being legalized:
There are upwards of 60,000 people practicing polygamy without legal recognition in the United States today. Public support for polygamy has more than tripled since 2010 to nearly one in four people today. In 2020, Utah reduced the criminal penalties for living in polygamous relationships to infraction status. Organizations such as the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition, with support from Harvard Law School, are pushing for legalization of polyamorous unions. Two cities in Massachusetts, Somerville and Cambridge (home to Harvard University) have recently granted official Domestic Partnership status to plural unions. Nothing in Obergefell prohibits any state legislature in the country from following Cambridge’s lead, nor does it prevent a state Supreme Court from imposing polyamory or polygamy by interpretation of its state constitution.
And one other outcome that will make individuals and organizations vulnerable:
Anyone merely alleging a harm would be able to sue under H.R. 8404. Activists will argue that faith-based foster care providers, state-funded religious social service organizations. and religious organizations and businesses that provide services under contract with the government are acting “under color of State law” to, at the very least, impose costs on and harass institutions that seek to live their beliefs about man-woman marriage without having to withdraw from civic or public life.
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Some people will see these concerns as overreactions or extremes. Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have believed there would be social support for gender mutilation surgery, CRT, taking away control from parents for their children’s education, border invasions or censorship by the media. I think the House Freedom Caucus sees the future clearly:
‘This vote is about more than culture. It is about affirming the self-evident truth that marriage is a natural institution that predates government,’ the letter reads. ‘Republicans must stand united in defense of that truth and the institution of marriage which forms the backbone of a healthy society. There can be no compromise on this question.’
Unfortunately, I doubt that the Republicans are listening.Published in