‘Respect for Marriage Act’ Threatens Families

According to the pollster Gallup, a new high 71 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, while nearly 60 percent of regular church goers oppose it. Gallup also shows that just 17 percent of Americans say they are “satisfied with the direction of the country,”

Moreover, the percentage of Americans who admit they are “not too happy” with how things are going has increased from 10 percent in 2000 to nearly a quarter in 2022, and those who profess to be “very happy” has decreased during the same time period, from 34 percent to just 19 percent. As conservative pundit Star Parker observed in The Liberty Dispatch: “Clearly, many Americans sense there is something very wrong going on in our country.”

Those opposed to the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), H.R.8404, which passed the U.S. Senate on November 29 with no amendments to protect religious freedom and with the help of 12 Senate Republicans, point out that it not only codifies same-sex marriage at the federal level but it also nullifies First Amendment protections.

All 50 states will now be required to recognize “any marriage legally recognized by any other state, and gives individuals the right to sue if they feel they have been harmed by people who believe in natural marriage.” If a state such as California should decide to recognize polygamous “marriages,” the other 49 would be required to recognize these unions as well.

An enthusiastic supporter of the bill, President Biden signed it into law with controversial fanfare on December 13. (See Education Briefs in this issue.)

Dangers of the RMA

Phyllis Schlafly Eagles President Ed Martin said of the bill just prior to its final passage: “Frankly, there will not be a single unintended consequence of this law, since its whole purpose is to exercise tyranny over those of religious faith and put a crushing stop to the fundamental American ability to dissent.”

Martin predicts that faith-based institutions and businesses will “legally be labeled bigots according to federal code. There is simply no other purpose or conclusion of this bill,” he says, “than to stamp out protections for conscience and religious belief. Anyone who says otherwise is incredibly ignorant or a willful liar.”

Some conservatives labeled the bill the Disrespect of Marriage Act when it was introduced in July. Both the U.S. House and Senate produced similar bills, ostensibly in retaliation for a suggestion by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion on the Dobbs decision that perhaps the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, among others, might also deserve scrutiny by the high court.

Journalist Ben Johnson noted on that the RMA prevents “any state from exclusively protecting the natural family in law, in the unlikely event the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, which created the constitutional ‘right’ to same-sex marriage.”

Johnson quoted Democrat Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York who said: “The far-right Supreme Court is on a rampage against the freedoms of the American people.” And Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also of New York, threatened: “We will not sit idly by as Republicans and their activist judges take our country backward.” Both legislators identify as LGBT.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) called the bill a response to “unfounded fear” on the House floor when it was introduced in July. Roy said: “There is no threat. My colleagues are here for political messaging. ... We’re here because my Democratic colleagues have no answer” to the nation’s economic woes.

Johnson further wrote that the move “comes as part of an aggressively legislative push by congressional Democrats to set their view of hot-button values issues into stone, since it can no longer rely on the Supreme Court, which recently closed its most constitutionally based session in 87 years.”

In a follow-up article on November 30, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called the bill “a club with which the Left will attempt to beat people of orthodox faith — who believe in marriage as God designed it and history has defined — into submission.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom agreed, stating: “While proponents of the bill claim that it merely enshrines the 2015 Obergefell decision, in reality it is a direct attack on the religious freedom of millions of Americans with sincerely held beliefs about marriage.” The RMA embeds “a false definition of marriage in the American legal fabric,” and could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of religious nonprofits that exercise their belief in traditional marriage. Furthermore, it could make freedom of religion cases harder to win and “could result in predatory litigation by activists against faith-based social-service organizations that could mire Americans in courts for years to vindicate their rights under the First Amendment.”

The final House version passed on a vote of 258-169, with 39 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting yes for the measure. The initial House version passed last August with 47 Republicans joining the Democrats in a favorable vote.

Religious freedom amendments defeated

Several amendments to the final Senate bill were offered by Republicans, including a comprehensive religious liberty amendment by Utah Senator Mike Lee that would have protected religious believers from vindictive federal officials who might take “discriminatory action ... wholly or partially on the basis of their belief in marriage.” Lee’s amendment received bipartisan support, with Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) voting yes. But one Republican, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), voted against Lee’s amendment, while two Republicans, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, skipped the vote, as did Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Amendments by Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and Marco Rubio of Florida also went down to defeat with the help of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio.

As Ed Martin of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles correctly observed: “There’s not a single protection for religious institutions in this bill and the entirety of the Senate body knows it. GOP Senators have gaslighted Americans about the marriage bill’s consequences.”

RMA will harm children, families

Teacher, writer, and mom of two, Jean C. Lloyd, published an article in October on Public Discourse in which she described the RMA’s potential harms to children. Now that the bill has received congressional approval and is about to become the law of the land, her timely piece has been reposted on MercatorNet.

A child of adoption, Lloyd describes RMA’s potential fallout from that perspective. She writes:

  • ‘The Respect for Marriage Act’ is intended to protect gay couples, but in so doing legally enshrines the denial of children’s need for a mother and father. Whether through adoption or artificial reproductive technology (ART), same-sex parenting and other modern arrangements divide and sometimes even eradicate the maternal and/or paternal bonds children need to thrive.

Lloyd describes the ROPA Technique, which is an acronym for “reception of oocytes from the partner.” It is a means for female same-sex couples to “participate in the gestation process.” She explains:

  • Pioneered in Spain, ROPA is an arrangement in which the intended parents are lesbian partners—one woman serves as the egg donor and the other the gestational surrogate. Researchers on planned lesbian families describe ROPA as fulfilling “the wish of a lesbian couple to conceive a child together (although they still need the contribution of a sperm donor) through a combined genetic and biological link.” This “shared IVF motherhood” option has been described as an “acceptable, successful, and safe treatment option for lesbian couples with financial means.” I think of children whose primal maternal bond is split and divvied up, or the stories of sperm-donor-conceived children longing for a father, and I wonder: Acceptable to whom?

  • Calling ROPA a “safe treatment option” is yet another destructive lie. These glowing reports fail to mention that using this new family model creates increased risk of serious harm, even unto death in some cases, for each member of the triad: the egg donor, the surrogate/gestational mother, and the ART-conceived and carried child.

Although for a time she identified as a lesbian, Lloyd is now happily married with two children, and she is in a unique position to provide an assessment of the RMA. “The law is a teacher, and the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ is a bad one. Enshrining legal lies about the truth of marriage harms all of society, most especially children. From facile heterosexual marriage dissolutions to novel family arrangements, children are harmed when their rights to their own mother and father are disregarded for the sake of adult desires.”

While these circumstances are already present in our society, the RMA can only intensify the attempts to mainstream them in the home, in the schools, and in society as a whole. But as Lloyd observes: “Children suffer when they are no longer considered central to the institution of marriage—an institution that for millennia served to bind together a father and mother from whose union children would naturally spring. A society suffers when it no longer distinguishes in law, much less guards and encourages, the one arrangement that provides the most stable environment for its future citizens to grow and flourish: the intact biological family, held together and supported in the institution of traditional marriage.”

Playing the race card

In her op-ed, Star Parker points out the false claim that the RMA is needed to protect interracial marriage. “Some have found it politically expedient to use the once prohibition on interracial marriage as a rationale for showing the alleged unfairness of a prohibition on same-sex marriage,” she writes. “But the bans on interracial marriage had nothing to do with our understanding of marriage. The ban on interracial marriage, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional in 1967, stemmed from the ban on interracial marriage in Virginia going back to 1924. That legislation was called The Racial Integrity Act. It was about racial purity. It had nothing to do with the definition of marriage.”

The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus in the U.S. House used that argument to advance the RMA last summer. According to The Western, Democrat Rep. David Cicilline, a co-chair of the caucus, said on the occasion of the first vote: “Today we will vote for equality and against discrimination by finally overturning the exclusionary, homophobic Defense of Marriage Act and guaranteeing crucial protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.”

Clearly, as many conservative journalists, pundits, politicians, and observers have discerned, the real purpose of the RMA is yet another leftwing power grab. It is an obvious effort to pre-empt any action by the Supreme Court, as well as to ensure the law is signed, sealed, and delivered before the new GOP-majority is seated in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The left knows there is no threat to interracial marriage, which has been accepted in American society for decades. And as The Western Journal article noted, “SCOTUS doesn’t just hand out edicts. They have to wait for a suitable case to be brought to them. In other words, there is no guarantee that the SCOTUS would ever even hear a case that would overturn Obergefell. Indeed, it took fifty years to get the proper case to overturn Roe!”

Lovers of truth and liberty for all citizens are unlikely to give up America’s time-honored truths, including the sacred bond of traditional marriage between one man and one woman. As Star Parker warned: “In 2022, know that those who love our country and understand what made and makes it great are in for the long haul. An America without truth is an America without a future.”

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