Family Council Joins Letter Opposing “Respect for Marriage Act”

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 photographersbakersflorists, 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.

Despite Marriage’s Benefits, Fewer Single Americans are Interested in Relationships

In April the Pew Research Center released survey results that show most single Americans — 56% — are not looking for relationships or even going on casual dates. That number is up from 50% in 2019, according to Pew.

The data shows only 32% of single Americans are actually looking for committed relationships. And 70% say their dating lives are not going well at all.

The findings are troubling, because research has found time and again that marriage is good for people and for society as a whole.

In February the Survey Center on American Life reported that married Americans are more likely to have a satisfying social life and a larger group of close friends. The center also found married Americans are more satisfied with their personal health than their single peers.

A 2016 article published by Harvard Health Publishing noted that marriage is tied to living longer, having fewer strokes, and better mental wellbeing.

Other research has shown that close relationships — including healthy marriages — keep people happy and healthy throughout their lives.

In spite of that, the Survey Center on American Life also noted that 34% of Americans who have never been married “say they have no intention of ever doing so.” That is a troubling statistic.

Scripture tells us we are meant to live in relationship with each other and with our Creator — and research increasingly verifies that fact.

Good relationships and good marriages are part of human flourishing. We ought to do what we can to promote good marriages in Arkansas.

Marriage, Good Relationships Linked to Health and Longevity: Research

One of the longest-running scientific studies of human health shows that good relationships — including healthy marriages — are tied to happy lives, good health, and longevity.

In 1938, scientists began tracking the physical and mental wellbeing of 268 Harvard sophomores. Researchers eventually expanded the study to include more than 1,700 other individuals — including children of the original participants.

One point that the data from the study showed very clearly: Close relationships — including healthy marriages — keep people happy and healthy throughout their lives.

As one of the researchers put it:

“When we gathered together everything we knew about them about at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old . . . It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

The Harvard Gazette summarized much of the data in a 2017 article, writing,

The researchers also found that marital satisfaction has a protective effect on people’s mental health. Part of a study found that people who had happy marriages in their 80s reported that their moods didn’t suffer even on the days when they had more physical pain. Those who had unhappy marriages felt both more emotional and physical pain.

Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, said Waldinger [one of the researchers], and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills,” he said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”

As the article’s title put it, “Good genes are nice, but joy is better.”

Data like this underscores why it’s important to stand up for healthy marriages and strong communities

As Christians, we understand that God designed people to live in relationship with each other and with Him.

Good relationships and good marriages are a strong predictor for good health. We ought to do what we can to promote good marriages in Arkansas.