On July 20, 2022, by a margin of 267-157, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404) (RMA). The bill’s title is misleading; the bill displays nothing but disrespect for marriage as God defined it. Should the RMA become law, it would codify same-sex “marriage” nationwide and would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which—before being held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States—treated marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
A constitutional right to same-sex “marriage” is already recognized in the U.S. due to the baseless 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. However, comments made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization have liberals worried that the Supreme Court might one day overturn Obergefell just as it overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year. The push to pass the RMA is an effort to keep same-sex “marriage” legal across the country regardless of what the Supreme Court may or may not do.
The Respect for Marriage Act is unacceptable for many reasons.
First, the RMA would require the federal government to recognize any marriage that is legally valid in the state where the spouses were married. This provision goes far beyond the issue of same-sex “marriage.” For example, if a state legalizes polygamy, the RMA would require the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages entered into in that state. In addition to creating moral confusion, this provision of the RMA could also create confusion in the law regarding taxes, welfare, and inheritance rights.
Second, the RMA could be interpreted to allow certain religious charities to be sued by the U.S. Attorney General or by activist groups if they are unwilling to place children with same-sex couples or offer marriage benefits to employees with same-sex “spouses.”
Third, the RMA could eventually lead the IRS or other federal agencies to strip tax-exempt status from religious charities that do not affirm same-sex “marriage.”
Then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, as did then-Rep. Chuck Schumer. The bill passed with large bipartisan majorities in both houses, and then-President Bill Clinton—also a Democrat—signed it into law. It is saddening to note that 26 years later, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to redefine marriage nationwide.
Following the passage of the RMA by the House of Representatives, Nicole Hudgens of Family Policy Alliance commented, “This vote is an attempt to appease [Democrats’] far-left base before the November election… Unfortunately, 47 Republicans linked arms with Speaker Pelosi’s agenda.” This number is staggering. Worse yet, the 47 House Republicans who supported the RMA include six of the seven Republican members of New York’s congressional delegation. Republican Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Chris Jacobs, John Katko, Nicole Malliotakis, Elise Stefanik, and Lee Zeldin all voted to codify same-sex “marriage.” Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney was the only New York House member to vote against the bill; however, Rep. Tenney supports a nationwide right to same-sex “marriage” and only voted against the RMA because she found it to be unnecessary. (All 20 Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation voted for the RMA as well.)
While the RMA does not yet have sufficient votes in the Senate to break the 60-vote filibuster and pass that chamber, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has been tasked with finding 10 Republican senators who will pledge to support the bill. Politico reports that Sen. Baldwin is about halfway to her goal; Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have co-sponsored the RMA, and Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are viewed as likely supporters. (Of course, New York’s two Democratic U.S. Senators—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—support the RMA as well.)
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is working with allies across the nation to keep the RMA from passing the U.S. Senate. On July 26, a letter from NYCF and dozens of other conservative organizations was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to do everything in his power to prevent the passage of the RMA. Please pray that the Senate Republicans will have the wisdom and the political courage to fend off this destructive legislation.
This article was updated on July 27, 2022.