The United States Senate voted Wednesday to advance the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.
The motion received 62 “aye” votes and 37 “no” votes.
Twelve Republicans voted for advancing the legislation: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.
H.R. 8404, which passed the House of Representatives in July, “provides statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages,” repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The legislation also “repeals and replaces provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states with provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin,” allows “the Department of Justice to bring a civil action,” and “establishes a private right of action for violations.”
Democratic advocates say the legislation promotes equality, but religious leaders strongly warned that it explicitly targets people of faith.
“This politically motivated and timed vote in the US Senate offers zero benefits, but plenty of harm,” warned Catholic Vote President Brian Burch in a Wednesday statement. “The Act violates the First Amendment rights of Americans everywhere, but most directly those who live out their beliefs in the public square where their contributions to society are irreplaceable.”
“This includes those who are explicitly motivated by their faith to advance their community’s wellbeing—like churches and charities—but likewise individuals whose faith informs the everyday work they do—like web designers, wedding cake bakers, and others,” he added. “This bill that so viciously attacks religious freedom is corrosive to our rights and our society and it should be rejected.”
Michael New, an assistant professor at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America, warned The Daily Signal that he has “serious concerns” about how the legislation would affect The Catholic University of America “and other Catholic college and universities around the country.”
“The legislation does contain some language protecting faith-based non-profits, but those protections have been deemed ‘anemic’ by many respected legal analysts,” New said. “Catholic colleges whose policies reflect Catholic teachings on marriage and family might be subject to lawsuits.”
“Suppose a Catholic college refused to allow a same sex married couple to live in college owned graduate student housing for families, they might be subject to all kinds of litigation,” he suggested. “Such a college might lose its non-profit status. Their students might lose eligibility for federal financial aid and their faculty might lose eligibility from research grants from government agencies. This would put Catholic colleges and universities at a real disadvantage when compared to their secular counterparts.”
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