The U.S. Senate voted today to end debate on H.R. 8404, the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act.” The cloture motion, which needed the support of 60 senators, passed by a vote of 62 to 37.
The Senate leadership will now decide when the act will come up for a final vote. After reaching the threshold of 60 votes to end debate, the bill seems certain to pass. It only needs a majority of 51 to do so.
Focus on the Family President Jim Daly strongly condemned the bill, saying:
Instead of respecting marriage, H.R. 8404 further unravels the historic, cross-cultural and biblical definition of marriage as the life-long, covenantal relationship between a husband and wife.
This measure goes far beyond the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, as it enshrines “same-sex marriage” into federal law.
Daly called the vote “a disappointing loss for religious freedom,” saying:
The act threatens Christian business owners and religious nonprofits that believe what the Bible teaches: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
The Senate moved forward an amended version of the bill, with supposed protections for religious freedom. But Daly said those protections weren’t enough, explaining that the measure only protects religious organizations or people who perform marriages.
Daly noted that the Internal Revenue Service uses “national policy” in determining whether an organization is a charitable group and said:
If this act becomes law, the IRS could use it to strip religious organizations of their nonprofit status. Ministries that provide social services, like foster care and adoption agencies, would be endangered if they held to the biblical view of marriage while working with the government.
The Alliance Defending Freedom released a strong statement opposing the advancement of the bill. CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said:
Today, the Senate chose to fuel hostility toward Americans who hold beliefs about marriage rooted in honorable religious or philosophical premises. This bill, which provides no protection or benefits that same-sex couples don’t already share, deceptively gives lip service to religious liberty while undermining the First Amendment freedoms that belong to each of us. …
It is shameful that 62 senators chose to ignore the Constitution and sanction discrimination toward these Americans. Make no mistake, this bill will be used by officials and activists to punish and ruin those who do not share the government’s view on marriage.
Every Democrat voted for the cloture motion, with 12 Republicans joining them. Senators Roy Blunt, MO; Richard Burr, NC; Shelley Capito, WV; Susan Collins, ME; Joni Ernst, IA; Cynthia Lummis, WY; Lisa Murkowski, AK; Rob Portman, OH; Mitt Romney, UT; Dan Sullivan, AK; Thom Tillis, NC; and Todd Young, IN, voted to end debate on the bill.
If the amended measure is finally approved, the House of Representatives will either have to pass the Senate version or conference with them to come up with a compromise. Any compromise measure would then need to pass both the House and the Senate.
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