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'Respect for Marriage Act' Is a Blatant Trojan Horse That Should Be Rejected

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The United States of America is one of the only nations in the history of the world to be founded because of religious freedom. Religious freedom is why the Pilgrims came to our shores. It’s why many refugees seek asylum here today. Religious freedom is the bedrock of our nation. And, without it, the U.S. ceases to exist.


It’s critical that we aren’t silent when the left attacks religious freedom. 

Liberals have perfected Trojan Horse attacks on religious freedom. They hide behind conservative sounding bill titles – like the “Respect for Marriage Act” to crack down on religion and eat away our rights piece by piece. They hide behind a façade of respect and decency as they take actions to rip apart society. Their latest attempt to attack religious organizations is designed to look pretty and innocuous on the outside, yet it’s sinister and dangerous at its core.

The “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA) shamelessly has supporters claiming that the bill would advance and promote religious freedom. This is patently FALSE. First off, religious freedom is already guaranteed in the First Amendment, and Congress doesn’t need to add its own reaffirmation of this basic principle just so its members can act like heroes. Often, when a government body tells you it’s protecting something, you should look more closely to see what it's trying to take away from you.

RFMA is pretending to protect churches from being forced to host same-sex weddings, but churches already have that protection. It’s called the First Amendment, and Congress isn’t adding to that. The bill itself claims its protections are “consistent with the First Amendment” – proving the complete needlessness of it all. The First Amendment is already the law of the land, and Congress doesn’t need to repeat it so its members can parade about a hollow law as if it’s a trophy.


Saying religious freedom won’t be diminished (as the bill asserts) also isn’t novel or necessary. Again, read the First Amendment. The Constitution guarantees our religious freedom; it’s not up to Congress to agree or not agree. 

As Kristen Waggoner of ADF succinctly points out, RFMA does nothing to solve the real religious liberty problems that exist throughout the U.S. right now. There’s no added protection for parents, for Christian homeless shelters, for faith-based adoption agencies, or for religious business owners. There’s no assurance that artists won’t be forced to perform or have their services purchased for same sex weddings against their will. Those protections would actually mean something in today’s world – especially with religious florists, cake bakers, and Gospel rescue missions under attack – so it’s notable that RFMA ignores them entirely. There is no desire by the bill’s sponsors to actually define or expand religious liberty in any meaningful way. In fact, RFMA dances around the actual instances of religious liberty being infringed upon and leaves them out in the cold.

Simply put, RFMA’s religious liberty provisions are lip service to a constitutional right that already exists. There’s nothing new and nothing actually protective here. The bill is meaningless, and worse, it’s a Trojan Horse meant to bring in conservatives so that a radical, family-damaging agenda gets their blessing. Already, too many elected Republicans have supported the bill, turning a blind eye to its sinister intent.


Conservatives should never support a law that gives us mere lip service and has zero effect on the real problems religious organizations face in a hostile world. We owe nothing to those pretending to respect us while they repeatedly stab us in the back. In fact, supporting RFMA is a betrayal of religious freedom – not a vote in its favor. 

Conservatives need to stand strong and demand more. Our Gospel missions deserve better legal protection. Our religious-owned businesses should be granted heightened legal protection. Cities and states and school districts need to stop their discrimination against religious organizations and religious parents, coaches, and teachers.

There’s no reason to surrender the battle for religious liberty one step at a time or to allow this Trojan Horse inside our gates. Instead, there’s every reason to shut it out. Republicans should emphatically vote no, as any elected Republican has the duty to ensure conservatives remain the people who can be counted on to preserve constitutional rights – not eat them away piece by piece.

Kristi Burton Brown is the Chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Party and a Constitutional lawyer.

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