Sen. Mike Lee on Anti-Christian ‘Respect for Marriage Act’: ‘There’s Still Time… We Can Stop This Thing’

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Exa

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is holding out hope that a few House Republicans will double back on their initial support for the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” a same-sex marriage bill which faith leaders say will open the door for religious persecution.

“Look, this was an initial procedural vote. … We’ve got several other votes that still have to take place. There’s still time,” Lee told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins after 12 Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the legislation on Wednesday.

According to the Washington Stand, Lee believes there is a possibility that GOP defectors realize “I [was] taken for a ride on this one. I got sold a bill of goods. They tried to sell me that bridge, and I bought it,” he said, adding that if just three Republicans change their minds, “We can stop this thing.”

The Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) was introduced following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, due to Democrats’ unfounded concerns that the Supreme Court could use the Dobbs decision to overrule the Court’s Obergefell gay marriage decisionThe measure passed the House in July with the help of 47 Republicans, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed to postpone a vote until after the midterms to give the bill the highest probability of passing — with the help of squishy Republicans.

It is a tactical move that paid off when 12 Republicans joined with Democrats to advance the legislation 62-37. Out of those 12 Republicans, several are retiring in the new year and likely have no motivation to hide their abandonment of conservative values, including Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC, who voted to impeach former President Trump), and Rob Portman (R-OH).

A few were/are also facing reelection and kept their position quiet. Mitch McConnell-backed Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who has not yet secured her reelection, voted to advance the bill, along with Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who won his reelection campaign.

RFMA would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and would require the federal government to recognize any marriage that was “valid in the place where entered into.” The bill would additionally require every state to recognize every same-sex marriage that “is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into.”

The bill also has a “private right of action” clause, which would allow “any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (b)…[to] bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States against the person who violated such a subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.” Likewise, attorneys general would be able to bring civil action against any person who violates the law.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) added an amendment entitled “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience” supposedly meant to assuage religious liberty concerns, though faith advocates say the amendment is pretty much useless.

With the added amendment agreed upon, the bill will go back to the House before going to President Joe Biden. The White House has expressed support for the measure.

Lee notably introduced an amendment of his own to protect religious liberty — which was ultimately rejected — and stated that had lawmakers actual taken steps to protect the First Amendment, he would have supported the bill.

“I offered to support the bill if the sponsors would include my amendment to prohibit the government from removing tax-exempt status based on religious beliefs about same-sex marriage (for or against). The sponsors adamantly refused even to consider that. Why?” Lee wrote.

Lee told Perkins that the bill “set in motion a [dangerous] sequence of events.”

“It’s likely to culminate in the removal of tax exempt status from religious institutions … that harbor or share a religious belief about the definition of marriage and whether they accept same-sex marriage,” he said. ““This is a shell game that ends in the … destruction of religious liberty in America.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who voted no on the bill, told Perkins that the bill “goes well beyond Obergefell” and could lead to the “coercion” of “people of faith in the private sector, people of faith who are in government, [and] people of faith who are in the education sector.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also a no vote, tweeted that sponsors’ “refusal to adopt Senator Lee’s amendment, which clearly protects religious institutions…says all I need to know about the potential risks of this bill.”

Overall, both Sens. Lee and James Lankford (R-OK) said Democrats and their 12 Republican allies are fully aware that the bill does little to protect religious liberty.

“These are not mistakes… This was purposeful,” Lankford said.

“These 12 Republicans are smarter than that,” Lee said.

Lee told Perkins that religious liberty “belongs to each of us — not just to institutions.”

“And it belongs to us and to our institutions in way that extend far beyond [the actual marriage ceremony],” he said. “…I can accept the idea of the government not discriminating for or against any type of religious institution based on their particular religious beliefs about marriage. Right. What I can’t accept is the government picking winners and losers on the basis of who adheres to a particular favored religious orthodoxy — and punishing those that don’t…”


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