Same-sex marriage shouldn’t be a church-state issue, but the church side is definitely making it one. It should simply be an administrative process where same-sex and opposite-sex marriages are treated the same in every state and devoid of religious influence. However, the reasoning behind the majority’s decision when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade could also be used to reverse the Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples under the Constitution. Justice Thomas invited a challenge when he said the Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”
Congress can pass legislation codifying the right to marriage for all, taking it out of the Supreme Court’s hands. And in fact the House has passed the Respect for Marriage Act which does this. The Senate is expected to vote on this bill in September. Forty-seven House Republicans voted for it, indicating that there is a chance that enough Senate Republicans will support the bill for it to pass.
Eighty organizations that exemplify the religious right have signed a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to oppose the Respect for Marriage Act. These groups not only oppose the bill because the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. They also wildly extrapolate dire consequences that are nowhere to be found in the bill text. Essentially they claim that the bill takes away their right to discriminate against people of different faiths or of no faith. You can read their letter here.
The letter says the bill “effectively deputizes activist groups to sue religious individuals, organizations, and businesses that operate according to their sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman and also act “under color of state law.”
The letter goes on to say that “Activists will argue this includes (1) faith-based foster care providers who are alleged to be performing a state function through child placement services; (2) religious social service organizations that are heavily funded by and work jointly with the government to serve their communities; and (3) religious organizations and businesses that provide services under contract with the government.”
The letter even states that if it passes the bill would allow the IRS to strip churches of their tax exemption for believing only in opposite sex marriages! Now we are really in fantasyland. If only these fears were well founded. If only the bill did prevent faith based social services agencies and government contractors from discriminating based on applicants’ faith or lack of one. If only it did motivate the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment against churches once or twice; I could take a Friday off.
Sadly, none of this is true. However, the disinformation campaign to convince Senators to oppose the bill is real. During the August recess they will be back in their states hearing from many people about this and other issues. Please use this action alert to let them know your opinion. The threat from the Supreme Court is real enough that the Respect for Marriage Act is necessary. Those 80 organizations represent millions of people who oppose same-sex marriage and want to see that right taken away. But they do not represent the 70 percent of Americans who approve of same-sex marriage. Senators need to hear from those people now, including those who view marriage as strictly an administrative and legal process available to all and devoid of religious implications and Biblical requirements. Tell your Senators you support the Respect for Marriage Act.