‘Silence anyone who disagrees’: Senate passes gay marriage bill despite religious freedom concerns

The Respect Marriage Act passed with bipartisan support in the United States Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 61 to 36.

While it doesn’t require churches to perform or host same-sex ceremonies, religious liberty advocates say it will target religious organizations and people who refuse to serve gay couples because of their religious convictions.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hailed it as a victory for equality. “No matter who you are or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law,” Schumer said.

The legislation grants federal protection to same-sex marriages, ensuring that government officials must recognize same-sex marriages in other states.

Twelve Republicans voted in favor of the bill, though a majority opposed it on religious liberty grounds.

“What it really does is silence any individual who disagrees and discourage any religious entity from cooperating with the government, to be able to say, if you want to partner with the state in any area, you’re probably not welcome because they don’t share the same beliefs,” said Senator James Lankford (R-OK).

While the bill is supposed to protect nonprofit organizations from losing their tax-exempt status, some senators wanted stronger language.

“Our amendment actually includes the belief about marriage to make it very, very clear that if you have a different belief about marriage, you won’t lose your nonprofit status,” Lankford said.

The Senate rejected three Republican amendments by Sens. Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Lankford.

Lankford also highlighted concerns about protecting Christians in the market, such as baker Jack Phillips, who has been sued multiple times for refusing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings and transgender reveal parties.

“Then their choice would be to not provide those services or to abandon their faith,” Lankford added.

Noelle Garnier of National Religious Broadcasters says the move not only threatens religious freedom but also traditional values.

“As Christians, we believe that family and marriage are the foundation of a strong society,” Garnier told CBN News. “It’s heartbreaking to see so many lawmakers agree and agree that the traditional view of marriage and family has no place in American politics.”

The bill will now go to the Democratic-controlled House early next week, where it is expected to pass. It will then go to President Biden, who says he will sign it into law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *