Report: Two GOP Senators Announce Support for Religious Liberty Amendment to Same-Sex Marriage Bill

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 2: Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., speaks during a news conference with a bipartisan group of House members on a letter to the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011. The letter urges the "super committee" be aggressive in its deficit cutting plan, and to …
Brandon Bell-Pool/Getty Images, Bill Clark

Two of the 12 Republican Senators who voted to advance the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA) announced that they would support Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) religious liberty amendment, which was created to keep the federal government from targeting or retaliating against any person or group for adhering to sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions about marriage.

Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who both voted on November 16 to advance to same-sex marriage bill, told the Daily Signal over the weekend that they would support Lee’s amendment. Lummis’ spokeswoman Stacey Daniels told the publication on Saturday that the senator will support the Lee amendment if it is brought to the floor. While she did not directly answer whether she would insist on the amendment’s adoption as a condition for supporting cloture, Lummis’ team said she is “hopeful her colleagues will join her in supporting” the measure.

Likewise, Sullivan spokesman Mike Reynard told the publication on Friday that the senator supports both an amendment from Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Lee, adding that Sullivan “has been working hard to ensure that these amendments get votes on the Senate floor.”

Support from Sullivan and Lummis comes after Lee sent a letter last week to the 12 GOP senators who voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, asking them to reject the RFMA unless his amendment is added.

“No American should face legal harassment or retaliation from the federal government for holding sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” he wrote in the letter. 

“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.,” the letter continues. “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.” 

The 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.

Overall, the 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.

Many of the lawmakers who support the RFMA say the legislation would protect liberty with the potential addition of a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) entitled “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.”

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