Though election results are still being tabulated and the final results for the last remaining U.S. House and Senate races are not fully known, the few remaining weeks of the current legislative session could be busy ones, with some controversial legislation on marriage making for a contentious end to the 117th Congress.
One of the subjects the Senate may focus on in the remaining weeks is same-sex “marriage,” and, interestingly, whether it comes up in the lame-duck session at all may depend on the final election results in the House.
The same-sex “marriage” bill up for consideration in the Senate is the falsely named “Respect for Marriage Act,” S. 4556, which was rushed through the House last July as H.R. 8404 without a committee hearing or any public input. It was passed in response to a single line in Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that suggested the high court’s 2015 same-sex “marriage” decision in Obergefell v. Hodges ought to be revisited and perhaps overturned.
It has not been brought up for a vote in the Senate this session by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., presumably because it lacked the required 60 votes needed to advance in that chamber.
It currently has 50 Democrat senators pledged to vote for it, but only a few Republican senators have reportedly voiced support.
The “Respect for Marriage Act” is a dangerous bill that goes far beyond Obergefell’s ruling and opens the door to further expansions of the redefinition of “marriage” and seriously jeopardizes religious freedom.
The version passed by the House not only enshrines same-sex marriage into federal statutory law (the Supreme Court declared it a constitutional “right” in 2015), but it requires states to recognize any kind of “marriage” created under the laws of any other state. That could include plural marriages, open marriages, marriages involving a minor or relative, platonic marriages or any other new marriage definition that a state chooses to adopt, according to a letter from concerned national and state organizations to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last July.
The bill would also, according to the letter, expose religious individuals and organizations to lawsuits if they operate according to a sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. And finally, the IRS could use such legislation as a basis to determine that organizations believing that marriage can only be between one man and one woman are not entitled to a 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt status.
Beyond the significant negative legal impacts of the bill, the social impact on marriage remains the ultimate concern.
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, writes in his blog that the legislation “ignores what social science says about the multi-millennia institution” of marriage.
“Nearly all the social science shows that the happiest people are married – and are usually married people of faith,” Daly wrote. “Marriage also serves to protect children. We know children do best when raised in a home with a mother and a father. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage deliberately and unapologetically prevents a child from having either a mother or a father.
“Those who warned about the consequences of legalizing same-sex marriage have been vindicated. In fact, in the years since the…Obergefell [decision] in 2015, a virtual whirlwind of anything-goes sexual confusion has swept across America, and those who hold to the traditional definition of marriage are increasingly marginalized and punished,” Daly added.
If the Senate fails to pass the “Respect for Marriage Act” this session, which ends on January 3, the bill would have to start over again in both chambers when the new 118th Congress is seated. An incoming Republican majority in the House in the next Congress – if that happens – may convince Schumer to attempt to pass the bill during the lame-duck session, since it has already received House approval.
Other issues that could be addressed in the next few weeks include: appropriations bills to fund the federal government and the Pentagon; confirming federal judges; federal election reform to amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to clarify the certification of Electoral College votes in presidential elections; and perhaps even cracking down on insider stock trading.
“All I can tell you is that we are going to try to have as productive a lame-duck session as possible,” Schumer told reporters on Sunday, NBC News reported.
“I’m going to talk to my caucus. I’m going to talk to the Republican leadership and see what we can get done,” he said.
At the time this article went to press, Democrats look to control at least 50 seats in the Senate (where a 50-50 tie can be broken by a vote of Vice President Kamala Harris) or possibly 51 after the Georgia runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Republican Herschel Walker is conducted in early December.
Control of the House remains undecided, with Republicans appearing to have at least a probability of winning a majority of the 435 seats there after the remaining 19 close elections are resolved.
Concerned Christians should keep the lame-duck session covered with prayer, and especially that the same-sex “marriage” bill would fail to gain any traction.
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