House Democrats have blocked an amendment that would have strengthened religious liberty protections to their legislation to codify same-sex marriage to ensure swift passage of the bill before Republicans take over leadership of the House in the new year.
“If we were to amend this, and it goes back to the Senate, for all intents and purposes it’s dead for the year,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), who rejected Representative Chip Roy’s (R-TX) amendment for advancement to the House floor.
Will @HouseGOP stand up for religious liberty… ? House Democrats block religious liberty amendment to same-sex marriage bill | Fox News #StandUpForAmerica https://t.co/57XRFOZCsN
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) December 6, 2022
McGovern said, according to a report at Fox News, that Democrats want to pass the bill they call the Respect for Marriage Act during the current lame-duck session of Congress before Republicans take control of the chamber in January.
“And many of us believe that we have a court right now that is hellbent on trying to reverse the rights for the LGBTQ community, and we do not trust them to respect marriage equality in this country,” he added.
House Democrats are now planning a vote on the bill without Roy’s amendment, which was identical to one offered by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) last week.
The Senate voted last week, 61-36, to pass the Democrats’ same-sex marriage bill with the help of 12 Republicans.
Lee’s religious liberty amendment to the bill failed by just one vote, 48-49, an outcome that, if the legislation is passed by the House and signed into law, could give a green light to the federal government’s retaliation against nonprofit faith organizations, such as schools and businesses, whose religious beliefs are incompatible with gay marriage.
While Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted in favor of Lee’s religious freedom amendment, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a pro-abortion Republican, voted against it. Collins joined with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay senator, on a religious freedom amendment that Lee called “woefully insufficient.”
Roy expressed concern to Fox News about how Americans of faith will be treated by LGBTQ activists without a rigorous religious liberty amendment to the legislation:
Later this week, Congress will vote to redefine marriage and hand LGBTQ activists a legislative sword to freely swing at innocent Americans. Yet, before today, not a single committee held a hearing, heard from witnesses, or deliberated the details of this legislation. Instead, members of Congress will be forced to vote up or down on a bill that they were not allowed to amend or even serious debate.
Funny, indeed. #StandUpForAmerica https://t.co/lbzyCffuA1
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) December 6, 2022
The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It was introduced after the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs, overturning Roe v. Wade.
Subsequently, Democrats stoked fear about a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas in which he suggested the Court reconsider other cases, in addition to Roe, that were decided based on “substantive due process,” referring to the idea that people have fundamental rights that are not specifically established in the Constitution, and, therefore, could be created, as they were in Roe, where no right to abortion ever existed in the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel stated last week the Democrat legislation is “unconstitutional.”
“Congress does not possess the constitutional authority to define marriage and to enact such legislation under Article I,” the legal ministry that defends the First Amendment said. “In striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the reverse of the ill-named Respect for Marriage Act, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in United States v. Windsor that “[b]y history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage . . . has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].