As we look forward to our Holiday dinners this week, some of us may be thankful if one topic doesn’t come up: politics. If it does, there is a feast of issues that could be discussed but one is on the front burner in Congress. The Respect for Marriage Act “RMFA” (HR. 8404) will be served as the main course in the Senate next week. If you have friends or relatives whose mouths are watering for passage of this bill and can’t help but say something, you can be prepared with a rebuttal.
Argument: Republicans support the Respect for Marriage Act.
Answer: It is true that some Republicans voted for this measure. Forty-seven House Republicans voted for passage and twelve Senate Republicans voted for cloture to proceed to debate on the bill. However, just because they belong to the Republican party does not mean you can’t disagree with them on this issue. In fact, the Republican party does as well. The GOP Platform addresses traditional marriage throughout the entire document multiple times. It also encourages the House and Senate to pass legislation to “bar government discrimination against individuals and businesses for acting on the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” The RFMA does not offer these important protections. The Republicans who voted for this bill are betraying the tenets of their own party.
Argument: The Senate version of the RMFA protects religious liberty.
Answer: The Senate version protects religious liberty for some but not for all. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced language that offers some protections for religious institutions and organizations “whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion.” However, any individual who is not employed by such institution could be forced to provide services that conflict with their beliefs. Foster care and adoption agencies may be forced to place children with same-sex couples. Cake bakers, photographers, florists, and web designers would have to use their creative skills as part of gay wedding ceremonies. The Supreme Court has already seen several such cases. Congress is using this bill to force religious believers to not only tolerate but affirm, support, and celebrate same-sex marriage or be punished by the state.
Argument: This bill is necessary because the Supreme Court hinted it could overrule gay marriage in its Dobbs decision that overruled Roe v. Wade.
Answer: The liberal media has been fanning the flames that the “conservative” Supreme Court could be on the brink of eliminating the ‘right’ to gay marriage and even interracial marriage.
This fear comes from the left’s distortion of Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. In his separate opinion, he explained his opposition to the legal concept of substantive due process which is found nowhere in the Constitution. But he clarified that the majority of the Court does not share his view. He wrote:
“The Court today declines to disturb substantive due process jurisprudence generally or the doctrine’s application in other, specific contexts. Cases like… and Obergefell v. Hodges (right to same-sex marriage), are not at issue. . . Thus, I agree that ‘[n]othing in [the Court’s] opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.’”
Justice Thomas, continuing to opine on his opposition to substantive due process rights generally, goes on to explain that reconsidering (in the future) the issue does not mean that rights such as same-sex marriage would be eliminated, “the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the . . . rights that our substantive due process cases have generated.” Justice Thomas then suggested that the ‘privileges and immunities’ clause of the Fourteenth Amendment could apply to such cases. Therefore, using his dissent as a motivation for this bill is a distortion and does not justify this legislation.
Argument: You are anti-gay for opposing this bill.
Answer: The issue of codifying same-sex marriage is not a matter of affirming a person’s sexual preference. Those who are opposed to the RFMA are defending the freedoms of religion and speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to all Americans, not just churches. These freedoms do not cease when you leave a house of worship or open your business. Government has the obligation to protect these rights endowed by our Creator, not undermine them. If Congress passes a bill that allows religious believers to be sued for not towing the government-approved line, we all have lost an important Constitutional right.
We have given you access to our State Leader Toolkit on the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act containing information and resources on H.R. 8404. Not only does it show you how to take action on the bill, but it gives in-depth information about the status of the bill, who voted in favor, who is threatened under this bill, and important articles from other authors and organizations. You can find that linked here.
Just remember, if conversations at the dinner table this week get too heated, you can move on to one topic that everyone can agree on: pie!