The current Legislature is frantically trying to push all bills that pertain to their liberal agenda before the new Republican majority takes over in the House of Representatives. The current bill, introduced in July and voted on by the Senate on November 29. 2022, is a proactive move to protect same sex and transgender unions. Most people believe that this is a reaction to the fear, shown by the far-left politicians, that was inspired by the overturning of Roe v Wade.
The official congressional summary of the bill, awaiting President Biden’s signature, is as follows;
This bill provides statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages.
Specifically, the bill repeals and replaces provisions that define, for purposes of federal law, marriage as between a man and a woman and spouse as a person of the opposite sex with provisions that recognize any marriage that is valid under state law. (The Supreme Court held that the current provisions were unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor in 2013.)
The bill also repeals and replaces provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states with provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. (The Supreme Court held that state laws barring same-sex marriages were unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015; the Court held that state laws barring interracial marriages were unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.) The bill allows the Department of Justice to bring a civil action and establishes a private right of action for violations.
Advocates say this bill simply codifies the famous Obergefell case. In short, Obergefell v. Hodges, legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (5–4) on June 26, 2015, that state bans on same-sex marriage and on recognizing same-sex marriages duly performed in other jurisdictions are unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The two questions presented by the case—the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans (the “marriage question”) and the constitutionality of bans on recognizing same-sex marriages (the “recognition” question)—were among various issues jointly presented in several related cases heard by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in August 2014. In a single opinion issued in November, the panel held (2–1), among other things, that the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Supreme Court’s own precedents were not inconsistent with state laws and constitutional amendments that defined marriage as a legal relation between one man and one woman only or that denied legal effect to same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. The plaintiffs in the cases immediately filed for certiorari with the Supreme Court, which was granted in a consolidated case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in January 2015, limited to the marriage and recognition questions.
The Alliance Defending Freedom stands against this bill, claiming that it is an affront to religious liberty. In part they write;
The Respect for Marriage Act threatens religious freedom and the institution of marriage in multiple ways:
- It further embeds a false definition of marriage in the American legal fabric.
- It opens the door to federal recognition of polygamous relationships.
- It jeopardizes the tax-exempt status of nonprofits that exercise their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
- It endangers faith-based social-service organizations by threatening litigation and liability risk if they follow their views on marriage when working with the government.
- It could make religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win.
- The USCCB has issued the following regarding the bill;
“It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward potential passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would essentially codify the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell that found a constitutional right to same-sex civil marriages.
“The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. In doing so, we are joined by millions of what the Obergefell Court called ‘reasonable and sincere’ Americans – both religious and secular – who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage.
“Senators promoting the Act have claimed that their amended bill ‘respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties,’ but the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient. . . The bill is a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today. The Act does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty. Senators supporting the Act must reverse course and consider the consequences of passing an unnecessary law that fails to provide affirmative protections for the many Americans who hold this view of marriage as both true and foundational to the common good.”
The words of the USCCB, “unnecessary law”, must be emphasized. While the Biden administration is fretting over social change, the economic structure of the country is imperiled. Perhaps Biden’s words about the possible rail strike sum up his economic priorities; “I am not directly involved”.