The U.S. House of Representatives voted 258 to 169 to pass H.R. 8404, the disingenuously named “Respect for Marriage Act.”
The act, which embeds a false definition of marriage into the American legal fabric, now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.
H.R. 8404 repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, a bipartisan measure signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It also codifies “same-sex marriage” into federal law.
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly issued a statement after the House vote, saying:
Thursday’s passage of the misnamed “Respect for Marriage Act” in the House of Representatives represents a tipping point in the American story, and a grave turn that should concern all those who cherish and value religious freedom.
Enshrining into law a destructive definition of marriage that undermines and expresses hostility towards God’s sacred design of a multi-millennia old institution invites the inevitability of unintended consequences. It also threatens to criminalize people of faith and jeopardize organizations that have done so much good for so long.
Daly said that Christians shouldn’t be surprised by the dramatic shift in our culture’s view of marriage, adding a call for believers to repent of our own failings:
We grieve the demise of a cultural consensus on the sacredness and exclusivity of one-man, one-woman marriage, but as Christians, we bear some responsibility for this shift and collapse, too. When believers fail to keep their own marital commitments, they undermine and weaken that which they claim to revere. Hypocrisy is an awful witness. We must confess and repent of our own sin.
The House approved the Senate version of the bill, which was passed on November 29 by a vote of 61 to 36, with three senators not voting.
The Senate added limited protections for religious organizations, stating that they could not be forced to solemnize or celebrate a marriage against their sincerely held religious beliefs.
However, it still 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 also places in jeopardy the tax-exempt status of nonprofits that affirm marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
After the act passed the Senate Daly said it “threatens to further undermine the very fragile foundation of the family.” He added:
The health of our nation is predicated on the health of its families. It’s inconceivable why a majority of our leaders would deliberately vote to erode the very institution that holds the answer to a thriving country and culture. Children desperately need mothers and fathers, and today’s vote seriously undercuts and ignores what should be a top legislative priority.
Every Democrat, along with 39 Republicans, voted for the measure, with Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah abstaining. In July, when the House first passed the measure, 47 Republicans voted for the act.
Focus on the Family was part of a coalition, led by Alliance Defending Freedom, that opposed the legislation. Other members included Heritage Foundation, Family Policy Alliance, Billy Graham Evangelical Association, First Liberty Institute, Colson Center for Christian Worldview and Concerned Women for America.
First Liberty President and Chief Counsel Kelly Shackelford released a statement condemning Congress’ redefinition of marriage, stating:
This bill paints a target on millions of people of faith who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
As our legal experts have made clear, this bill is a threat to religious liberty. It punishes the free exercise of religion by letting radical activists harass faith-based institutions in court because of their religious beliefs about marriage.
It’s an attack on millions of religious Americans who simply want to live their lives consistent with their deeply held beliefs.
Jim Dally concluded his statement by saying that Focus on the Family will continue its efforts to strengthen marriages and promote health families, saying:
President Biden is expected to soon sign this bill, but our work advocating for proven policies that strengthen the family and nation will continue in earnest. Now is not the time to retreat – it’s a time to bring clarity to the confusion and light to an increasingly dark world.
Article updated: December 9, 2022