Same-Sex Marriage Bill Clears the Senate

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Now that Republicans are poised to control the House, Democrats are scrambling to get as much done as possible during the lame duck session. After the Supreme Court ruled that the states can regulate abortion access, the left feared marriage might be next. So, the push to approve the Respect for Marriage Act went into high gear. The measure passed the Senate on Nov. 29 with the approval of 12 GOP lawmakers for a vote of 61-36.

What Does the Marriage Act Mean for Religious Organizations?

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) filed an amendment to protect those whose faith prohibits performing the same-sex vows, but it – along with a similar amendment from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – was voted down. If signed into law, the act would require any same-sex or interracial marriage to be recognized everywhere in the nation, so long as the couple is considered married in the state where the ceremony was performed.

“This will ensure that wherever you live, if you get married in a state where it’s legal, they have to recognize it wherever you are,” a Democratic aide familiar with the legislation told NBC News. “And you have the same rights, benefits, responsibilities and freedoms wherever you are.”

Some fear local governments that allow same-sex marriages will persecute those who refuse to perform or serve them (think of the gay wedding cake guy, Jack Phillips, and his struggles). Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), author of the bill and the first openly gay elected senator, revised the measure, hoping to appease Republicans, with language stating religious organizations will not have to perform same-sex marriages. But, as Sen. Lee said:

“Unfortunately, we are aware of case after case where individuals, charities, small businesses, religious schools, and religious institutions are being hauled into courts to defend themselves for living out their faith.”

Sen. Rubio explained:

“This bill does not protect religious liberty. Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was enthusiastic that the legislation passed the Senate, saying, “It’s personal to me.” He mentioned the tie he was wearing – the same one he’d worn to the wedding of his daughter and her wife.

Oh, How the Times Have Changed

GettyImages-533082528 gay marriage

(Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images )

Gallup started tracking opinion on same-sex marriages in 1996. At that time, there was only a 27% approval rate, and this was the era of the Bill Clinton presidency and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which recognized a legal union as being only between a man and a woman. Clinton opposed gay people openly serving in the military.

While most people blame the GOP and Republican supporters for forbidding the legal bond between same-sex couples, Democrats haven’t always been on what more progressive folks might call “the right side of history” on this issue. For example, 14 years ago, in 2008, then-President Barack Obama opposed gay marriage. He changed his mind four years later, though, after he realized his need for the LGBTQ community’s support and the party’s shift in that direction.

An interesting tidbit is that the first “Republican presidential nominee to publicly support marriage equality” was Donald Trump, according to CNN.

Today, most Americans are not opposed to gay marriages. A new poll in June 2022 showed 71% of respondents support legalizing same-sex relationships. However, the concern is whether this will force religious organizations and people of faith to violate their beliefs.



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