On Tuesday Family Council joined 82 other conservative, grassroots organizations from across the country in urging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R — Ky.) to reject the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” H.R. 8404.
Among other things, H.R. 8404 fully repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and forces states to honor any definition of marriage that is recognized in another state. That raises serious questions about what happens to marriage laws in states like Arkansas if other states change their laws regarding polygamy or child marriages.
The measure also carries serious implications for Americans who still believe marriage is supposed to be the union of one man and one woman.
The letter to Sen. McConnel says,
The [Respect for Marriage] Act, which was suddenly rushed through the House without any public hearings or input, is an attack on millions of Americans, particularly people of faith, who believe marriage is between one man and one woman and that legitimate distinctions exist between men and women concerning family formation that should be recognized in the law. . . .
H.R. 8404 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 U.S. Supreme Court has recognized this as a term that might apply where a private organization participates in a joint activity with a state, is performing a function traditionally performed by the government, or even when its operations are entwined with government policies. 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. Although the issues to be litigated would be many, there is no question the proposed Act subjects religious people, businesses, and organizations to countless new lawsuits merely for practicing their faith.
The letter also notes that if passed, the IRS could use the “Respect for Marriage Act” to target churches and charities that believe in a biblical definition of marriage.
The House of Representatives hastily passed H.R. 8404 last week, one day after it was introduced. The proposal received 47 Republican votes. Most of the Republicans in the Senate have yet to take a position on the measure.
We’ve heard time and again about Christian photographers, bakers, florists, and wedding chapel owners being investigated and dragged into court because they declined to take part in a same-sex wedding or ceremony. Sometimes the Christian business owners win their cases. Other times they lose.
Passing the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” could simply make situations like these worse.