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On Eve Before House Vote, Heritage Action Warns of Concerns Against Respect for Marriage Act

Last Tuesday, the Senate voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act by a vote of 61-36 to codify same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, the bill heads back to the House, which had previously voted in favor of it in July, to reconcile the versions. Despite its positive-sounding name and the bipartisan support in both chambers, the bill is not without its concerns, especially when it comes ways in which religious organizations could be targeted. Among those most vocal in sounding the alarm is Heritage Action, which will score tomorrow's House vote.

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In an exclusive statement for Townhall, Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson warned that the "so-called 'Respect for Marriage Act' is one of the Left's most blatant attacks on religious organizations and Americans of faith. This next vote is a second chance for U.S. Representatives to prove to their constituents where they stand both on religious liberty and legislating in the lame duck. The American people want their leaders to protect their closely held religious beliefs and liberties."

When it comes to the concerns befalling religious organizations, it's not as if there wasn't opportunity to rectify them. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and James Lankford (R-OK) all offered amendments that could have fixed the problem, and they were all voted down. All three Republican senators voted against the bill.

As part of speaking out against the bill, Heritage Action promoted floor speeches of the amendments, but there's plenty more where that came from, including explainers tweeted out ahead of last Tuesday's vote.

With such coverage of concerns, it's certainly within the realm of possibility that some House Republicans who voted in favor of the bill in July--there were 47 of them--may change their vote based on religious liberty concerns with the bill. This is especially given that Heritage Action will include it as "a key vote" on their legislative scorecard. 

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A more recent explainer from Heritage Action argues that "the only practical impact of the Respect for Marriage Act would be to put a giant target on the backs of institutions and people of faith" and that "setting a national policy of same-sex marriage, the Respect for Marriage Act would be used to paint those with sincerely held disagreements as bigots who cannot be allowed to partner with government or retain tax-exempt status."

Heritage Action also lays out how this bill will have further and more far-reaching implications in how new IRS agents could be coming after religious organizations: 

Just months after Democrats used the Inflation Reduction Act to fund 87,000 new IRS agents, the Respect for Marriage Act would be giving those new agents carte blanche to harass and target religious schools and other faith-based entities that oppose same-sex marriage and eventually strip them of their tax-exempt status. Worse, it would create a roving license to sue anyone acting “under color of law” - a loosely defined term that would include those providing government-funded or -regulated services. As a result, adoption centers and foster care providers with religious objections to same-sex marriage would have to close down.

While Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) is offering his own amendment to protect religious liberty in the House, Democrats are hostile to that as well. Heritage Action laments that it is "unlikely to even be allowed a vote in the House, guaranteeing that the bill will represent a direct attack on religious individuals and institutions."

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Another criticism of the bill is that it is unnecessary. In the Dobbs v. Jackson case, officially handled down June 24, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a solo concurring opinion which speculated on the Court to revisiting other rights, such as contraception and same-sex marriage. Despite no other justices signing on, and the opinion of the Court from Justice Samuel Alito and a concurring opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh making clear that Dobbs only applied to abortion, Democrats reacted almost immediately.

It's worth emphasizing that Justice Thomas is only one of nine, and it's highly unlikely that the Court would vote to even consider hearing a case that challenges the 2015 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, let alone actually overturn its own decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. 


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