The Senate is postponing a vote on H.R. 8404, the disingenuously titled “Respect for Marriage Act.” The measure would codify in federal law the redefinition of marriage to include any two individuals that a state allows to marry. It also forces states to accept any marriage recognized in another state
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, the bill’s chief sponsor, made the announcement today, after a lunch meeting with other senators. She told reporters, “I’m still very confident that the bill will pass but we will be taking the bill up later, after the election.”
Earlier this week, sources for the Daily Citizen said the bill might be up for a vote as soon as Monday, September 19. But the postponement indicates the bill did not have the 60 votes needed to pass.
As we’ve previously reported, Focus on the Family opposed the act and joined a coalition urging senators to reject HR 8404, as the original version of the bill created serious concerns for religious liberty.
Under that version, activists would have the right to sue religious individuals, organizations, and businesses who hold to a sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Federal agencies could have used the bill to target religious organizations that believe in traditional marriage.
The IRS, for example, could remove tax-exempt status from religious non-profits for disapproving of same-sex marriages. Or the Department of Education could withhold funds from religious schools on the basis that they discriminated against same-sex couples, thereby violating this federal law.
Those issues kept the bill from finding 60 supporters.
A group of senators was working on a compromise bill to address the concerns, but apparently thought they still did not have the votes to pass the bill, even with amendments to protect faith-based individuals and organizations.
A version with new text was reportedly circulating that contained a “religious liberty” clause and a section stating that there was no federal recognition of polygamous marriage. Baldwin said she expected the new version to be released later today.
Christian groups still had concerns about this, asking why legislation that threatens religious freedom should ever become law – even with “religious liberty” protections. They argued that Congress should simply not pass legislation that undermines the First Amendment.
In all cultures – even apart from Judeo-Christian ethics and traditions – marriage has been recognized as the union of a man and a woman. As Focus on the Family President Jim Daly wrote about HR 8404:
Across all of history, marriage between one man and one woman has been seen as a social good. Some have even called it the escalator to the American dream. It settles men down, empowers women and serves as the single most effective means we know by which to ward off poverty.
Marriage between a man and a woman also provides the best environment in which to raise healthy, successful children.
Supporters of radical marriage redefinition are hoping they’ll garner 60 votes after the election, so it’s important for Christians to understand what marriage really is, continue to speak out against the legislation, and vote for candidates who share their values.
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