GOP Senator Who Voted For ‘Respect For Marriage Act’ Backs Key Religious Freedom Amendments

Written by K. Walker on November 26, 2022

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If these amendments fail, it’s the beginning of the end of religious liberties in America.

There is a way to protect religious freedom, unfortunately, it requires some GOP Senators to not be ideological squishes.

Shockingly, that has happened in one instance.

On Friday, Mary Margaret Olohan reported in the Daily Signal that Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) has backed vital amendments to the so-called Respect for Marriage Act that will protect religious freedoms.

A Republican senator who voted for the so-called Respect for Marriage Act supports Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s and Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s amendments to the legislation, The Daily Signal has learned.
Republican Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is working hard to ensure that the necessary votes are attained to include the amendments, which aimed at protecting the religious liberties of Americans, a person familiar with the situation told The Daily Signal.
Sullivan’s office confirmed to The Daily Signal on Friday afternoon that the senator does indeed support both Lankford’s and Lee’s amendments.
Source: Daily Signal

Twelve Republican Senators voted for advancing the Respect for Marriage Act — Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.

If you are represented by one of those Senators, now is the time to contact their offices and urge them to back the Lee and Lankford amendments.

Several of these Senators are retiring at the end of their term and are backing the Democrats’ bill on their way out the door.

The bill requires cloture — 60 votes to pass — and that vote is on Monday. If just three GOP Senators who had voted to advance the RMA back the amendments and insist they are added to the bill or they’ll vote no, the bill cannot pass.

The major concern of the critics of the Act is that the protections for religious liberties are toothless and would allow the targeting and harassment of religious organizations and individual people of faith.

While the RMA includes language that the bill itself will not strip tax-exempt status from anyone, it doesn’t have robust protections explicitly stating that a weaponized IRS could not do so. That’s what the Lee amendment does.

Many of these lawmakers claim that the much-discussed legislation protects religious liberty. But opponents of the bill warn that it “puts a giant target on people of faith.”
“The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic,” Lee wrote in his letter, which was signed by 20 of his Republican colleagues and first published by The Daily Signal. “We must have the courage to protect it.”
Major conservative and religious organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Religious Freedom Institute have condemned the Respect for Marriage Act. Religious leaders previously warned The Daily Signal that it would hack away at the religious freedom of faith-based groups.
Source: Daily Signal

During the Obama administration, we saw how the admin went after the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby over birth control and abortion, as well as how the weaponized IRS targeted Tea Party groups and removed their tax-exempt status.

The “Deep State” during the Biden administration has been weaponized in an alarming way against ideological adversaries and it isn’t a stretch to imagine that this would be expanded if the Respect for Marriage Act passes without these key amendments.

Critics of the amendments insist that they aren’t necessary, but if that’s true, then what’s the harm in adopting them? Senators back pointless pieces of legislation all the time simply to “send a message” — for example, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act that passed even though lynching was already illegal in every state.

The entire premise for the need for the Respect for Marriage Act is based on a lie.

Democrats have been fearmongering that Republicans and the now conservative-leaning Supreme Court are secretly hatching a plan to reverse the Obergefell decision to legalize gay marriage and the Loving decision that legalized interracial marriage. To back up the absurd claim, they cite a concurring opinion that was written by Justice Clarence Thomas in the Dobbs case examining the concept of “substantive due process”, the legal basis for Roe v. Wade. In it, Justice Thomas noted that it was also the legal basis for other cases such as Obergefell. No other Justices joined Thomas in his concurrence.

Nevertheless, Libs went nuts insisting that Thomas wanted to outlaw both interracial marriage and gay marriage.

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While Libs were screeching about their fever dream that the Supreme Court has a nefarious secret plot to overturn Obergefell and Loving, they failed to acknowledge that the Dobbs majority decision stated that there was no intention of the Court to do any such thing.

The Dobbs majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, states three times that the Supreme Court would not be revisiting the Obergefell decision.

Two key amendments to the Respect for Marriage Act were put forward by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and James Lankford (R-AK), who have both been very vocal about their concerns that the bill would be used to target religious organizations and individuals.

Earlier this month, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to his fellow Senate Republicans urging them to explicitly protect religious liberties and prevent the IRS from going after churches and faith-based organizations to remove their tax-exempt status.

Sen. Lee opened the letter citing an interaction between Justice Alito and then–Solicitor General Donald Verrilli when the Obergefell case was being heard.

“In response to Justice Alito asking whether, should states be required to recognize same-sex marriages, religious universities opposed to same-sex marriage would lose their tax-exempt status, General Verrilli replied, ‘…it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito, –it is going to be an issue,'” recounted Sen. Lee.

He went on to say that the religious liberty protections in the Respect for Marriage act are weak and don’t explicitly protect

“[W]e should make explicitly clear that this legislation does not constitute a national policy endorsing a particular view of marriage that threatens the tax exempt status of faith-based non-profits,” wrote Lee. “As we move forward, let us be sure to keep churches, religious charities, and religious universities out of litigation in the first instance. No American should face legal harassment or retaliation from the federal government for holding sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Similarly, Sen. Lankford is concerned that there has been deliberate stonewalling in the crafting of the legislation to allow protections for individuals from litigation.

The bill protects religious leaders — rabbis, imams and pastors– from being compelled to solemnize a marriage that is against their religious beliefs, but those protections are not extended to other people of faith with the same sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the legislation, individuals will be able to sue other individuals or entities for discrimination unless it is because of religious freedom. However, those seeking exemptions on the basis of religious liberty must prove that their principal purpose is to study, practice, or advance religion.

Lankford asked the sponsors of the bill why the “principal proof of purpose” was needed and the response he got was that they did not want to include protections on religious liberty for private individuals or private businesses who may have a personal religious belief.

This means that the religious protections will not cover private individuals or private businesses because they are not principally a religious organization — they are individuals.

“So, the private right of action only goes against people that have religious objections. Those religious individuals, if they are discriminated against are on their own — they get no protections in this bill,” explained Lankford.

Lankford says that as the bill was being debated, multiple members had brought forward amendments to “fix” the issue, but they were all rejected and Democrats insist that the bill is pushed forward without amendments.

“You know what that tells me? These are not mistakes in the drafting — this was purposeful,” Lankford said.

Basically, as some Twitter users have pointed out, “We are all Jack Phillips now.” This is a reference to the Masterpiece Cake Shop baker that has been legally harassed for refusing to make a custom cake for a gay wedding despite not denying the couple the ability to purchase any of his other baked goods.

Here is Sen. Lankford making a strong defense for religious freedom here:

One of the dozen squishy GOP Senators is now on board, now we need two more. The problem is, it requires the GOP to play hardball.

Again, if you are represented by any of the dozen GOP squishes that voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, contact them before Monday and urge them to back the Lee and Lankford amendments to protect religious freedoms.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) covers how vital the Lee Amendment in particular is on his podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz.

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ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll and on Gettr @KarenWalker