House Pushes Through Respect For Marriage Act Raising Religious Rights Concerns

In a blatant attempt to undercut SCOTUS, the still Democrat-controlled House has hastily pushed through the Respect for Marriage Act, which, according to several Christian organizations, threatens religious liberty.

The bill passed 258-169-1, with 39 Republicans joining the entire contingency of the Democrats to pass the bill. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) was the only representative who voted present.

The bill had already passed the House and the Senate earlier, going back to the House for a second vote.

The RFMA repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which ruled marriage to be between one man and one woman and left the decision of the legality of marriages up to the states. DOMA also defined “spouse” as a “person of the opposite sex.”

In 2015, the Supreme Court overturned DOMA in the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

However, the recent SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v Wade, and a statement in a concurring opinion by Justice Thomas where he stated that he would do away with the doctrine of “substantive due process” caused panic among Democrats concerning the fate of Obergefell, prompting the hasty Respect for Marriage Act.

The RFMA repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which declared marriage to be between one man and one woman and left the decision of gay marriage to the states. While Obergefell had overturned the law, it is still on the books.

The RFMA would require all states, even those that could move toward bans, to recognize as valid marriages from states where it’s legal.

The bill would prohibit any state from denying “full faith and credit” of any marriage “on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity or national origin of those individuals.”

The bill has raised grave concerns among some Conservatives. Rep. Mike Lee (R-Texas) called the religious protections given by the bill “severely anemic.”

He also questioned why Democrats were adamantly against putting in a clause that would protect religious organizations from losing their tax-exempt status.

Gregory Baylor of the Alliance Defending Freedom writes that the bill provides “no real protections for religious individuals or organizations” and “leaves numerous religious social-service organizations vulnerable.” He concludes that “Congress is prioritizing virtue-signaling over protecting the freedom to hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage” and says that the bill pays “lip service to legitimate religious freedom concerns while undermining the First Amendment.”

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