Counterpoint: Sen. Mike Lee’s speech on Respect for Marriage Act warns of profound consequences for people of faith

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A lightly edited version of Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s speech on the Senate floor regarding the religious liberties that are endangered by the Respect for Marriage Act, compliments of editors at The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal:

Madame President, today, as popular winds blow against the man and woman of faith, we should look to the Constitution and remember that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. We do a disservice to all Americans if we elevate the rights of one group at the expense of another.

On the one hand, there’s no existing threat to same-sex marriage. It is and will remain legal nationwide regardless of the outcome of this legislation before us, the Respect for Marriage Act.

On the other hand, we have current, real, sustained ongoing assaults on religious freedom. How we proceed today will do nothing to the status quo of same-sex marriage in this country. It’s legal and will remain legal regardless of the outcome of this legislation.

It will, however, if enacted, have profound consequences for people of faith.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision, proponents of this legislation have conjured up a series of hypothetical scenarios resulting in an imagined threat to the ability of same-sex couples to marry and enjoy the privileges of marriage. The rhetorical slippery slope goes something like this. First, they claim that some unknown, unnamed state is on the verge of passing an unknown, yet to be proposed or imagined law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Next, they imagine that federal district courts will uphold this hypothetical state law despite the crystal-clear direction within the Dobbs and Obergefell opinions from the Supreme Court. Should that adventure of unlikely hypotheticals transpire, they envision a case making its way all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

All of this, despite the lack of political will anywhere in the United States to prohibit same-sex marriage. Should that happen, proponents of this bill contend that there is a non-zero chance that one justice could decide to analyze the right to marry, not through the prism of substantive due process, as it has been since Obergefell was decided in 2015, but rather through the lens of the 14th Amendment’s privileges or immunities clause.

Proponents of the bill cite a single line within Justice [Clarence] Thomas’ concurring opinion and suggests that one justice could effectively destroy legal recognition of same-sex marriage, not just prospectively, but undoing currently legal same-sex marriage.

Now, this, Madame President, is a complete fantasy.

I’m not aware of a single state in the United States threatening to pass any law infringing the ability of any same-sex couples to marry or enjoy privileges associated with marriage, nor am I aware of a single state threatening to invalidate, within their borders, marriages entered into in other states, nor is it at all clear that Justice Thomas himself was suggesting that Obergefell be overturned. 

He was suggesting that it be analyzed, like all substantive due process jurisprudence, to figure out whether there might be another provision of the Constitution under which it might be more appropriate. They were attributing to him statements he didn’t make, they were attributing to him analysis he didn’t even undertake in that one statement regarding the doctrine of stare decisis, and then they were attributing to state’s intentions they do not have and have not expressed.

My colleagues have yet to offer even a single example of a same-sex marriage threatened by any current or pending state legislation, not one, not a single one, and they intentionally misinterpret Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs and claim that the sky is falling, but it’s just not happening.

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. These people are not committing hate crimes against their neighbors. No, they’re not abusing peers for their personal choices either. No, they’re being hauled into courts across this country for serving the poor, the needy, and the refugee in compliance with their sincerely-held religious beliefs.

64 COMMENTS

  1. The Mormon Church supported the legislation, Mike Lee just got re-elected and cares more about stirring the pot than representing his constituents

    • I actually spent time speaking with several Mormons I know. They are livid and won’t be surprised if this causes a shake up in Church leadership.

      I’m told the Church endorsed it because liberal Mitt Romney, using liberal Salt Lake as a prop, conned a weak willed leadership into thinking it was what the rank and file wanted. It’s not. Not even close.

      While I may be proven wrong, I made the effort to communicate directly with LDS members to get my information.

      You?

      • Church doctrine is not the result of a meeting with Mitt Romney. It comes from hours, days, weeks of sincere prayer & seeking truth by leaders who are ordained by God for these purposes.

        • Then why did it abruptly change after a push by Mitt? And why are so many rank/file LDS mad about it?

          Lighten up. This isn’t an attack on your faith. It’s an example of how even the leadership of the LDS (or any faith) can bend under public pressure.

    • Would that be the multiple wives Mormons you’re referring to Frank, or is it the ‘you get your own planet when you die’ kind?

      Neither seem to be too sharp there bud. If they’re your guidepost, you need a new guidepost. Consider serpent handlers if you’re looking for a religious group w/ crazy ideas but less crazy than Mormons.

      Serpent handlers won’t audit your tax docs and then discipline you for skinflint tithing. You also won’t need to hide your drinking amongst serpent types.

      • Polygamy has been illegal for over 120 years, & members practice it are excommunicated.
        There is ample scriptural support for the notion you describe as “get your own planet,” such as The meek shall inherit the Earth.
        And there are no tax audits. We are simply asked if paid a full tithe. And there’s no “discipline” if you missed the mark.

        • The LDS church has amassed over 100 billion dollars from tithe and investments. Why do they need to ask for more from members?

        • You sure about that Kent?

          “Utah decriminalized polygamy in 2020”
          – US News and World Report

          I happen to believe that any man w/ two women deserves them both but polygamy was a mormon practice and it remains a mormon practice. Think there may have been a mormon behind decriminalization? If you’re inclined to say yes you would be correct. Saying that this stake or that stake might look upon the practice unfavorably doesn’t remove its mormon heritage nor does excommunication for the practice apply to all mormon sects.

          On a related note, there is not ample evidence to support the notion that anyone might “get your own planet” and it’s a gigantic leap of reasoning to assume that “The meek shall inherit the Earth” means you should have a special name for your spouse that no one else knows and that after you’re dead you’ll use that name to call her to your own private planet. That’s crazy talk and it stems from having a showman and a wrestler as your founder. It gets worse though when any church encourages and incentivizes their membership to favor other mormons in business transactions in order to garner greater tithe volume. Odder yet when getting that special planet also requires that you sport proprietary underwear as if there’s something about the appearance of your spouse’s form that might overheat the viewer and make him or her inclined toward perverse behavior.

          Now, I’ll admit that my serpent handler option isn’t for everyone but there’s a reason why they’re called religious nutbars and that reason is that each of them are whacky nonsense. A t-shirt in my closet has a picture of the Reverend Jim Jones on it and the comment “I had a killer time at the Jim Jones Kool-Aid Festival”. What he did isn’t much different from the crimes against humanity that religions have wrought on the public for eons. You should not attempt to rationalize nonsensical beliefs to others.

        • Who’s doing that? This is more of a ‘hate the deed, not the doer’ sort of thing. No one is trolling you either… you started it by insinuating that mormons were a universal benchmark and that because some mormon somewhere thought as you do, so should everyone else.

          You may recall that the article is not actually about mormons but you brought them up as the first post in the lineup and implied that their viewpoint settled the issue.

        • Whoops! Those wacky mormons are at it again!

          Here’s the headline:
          “Religious cult leader found with trailer full of underage wives, officials say”

          Want to read more? Search KTUU for “religious cult leader found with trailer full underaged wives”.

          The SUV was full so he stashed 3 of ’em aged 11-14 in the cargo trailer out back. Yeah, no comforts in the cargo trailer but for a plastic bag for uh, yeah that.

  2. Roe v Wade was considered settled law and the current Supreme Court took action to undermine it anyways. More of the fake assault on Religion from the far right. Coming soon will be that the left is cancelling Christmas. Happy holidays to everyone!

    • If your idea of freedom is to never ever again be confronted with the proponents of religions and their beliefs, then I must remind you that the free exercise of religion is guaranteed in the Constitution. To oppose religion and claim that censorship and persecution is “fake”, is first of all ignorant, and secondly it is a system of beliefs about God and believers – a religion.

    • Roe v. Wade was undermined, like Dred Scott and Plessey v. Ferguson were undermined … They were BAD decisions.
      The right is not assaulting religious freedom. The left is.

  3. Wondering if this had anything to do with de-population? Same sex couples cannot reproduce, and heterosexual couples are urged to abort. Live and let live, anything goes. Such was happening in the days of Lot before the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. It is to mock God to His face! And yet, homosexuality is not the worst sin. The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short, but there’s still time to repent and receive God’s gracious pardon. It’s not His will that anyone perish.

  4. People of faith. In other words, people that will believe just about anything without any evidence. Why is “I’m a person of faith” automatically seen as a respect gaining statement?

    • That’s a seriously ignorant mischaracterization C, with a calumnous rhetorical question following. No time or space here to debate you, but perhaps we could do that sometime. There’s lots of evidence; and no, being a person of faith does not automatically grant or gain respect – more often the opposite.

      • As it should be. If you’re willing to accept as fact notions for which there is absolutely no evidence of any sort… respect should be reserved.

        You are an atheist. Of the thousand or more religions in the world you think they’re all preposterous. You believe in Hominem the Monkey God? Of course not, only a lunatic would. How about Shintoism? Maybe you think we all sprouted from one volcano like our sauced friend G Galeutian said? You are an atheist with regard to all religions.

        Except the one your family saddled you with when you were young enough to also believe that Batman and Santa were the real McCoy.

    • -do you believe a boy can suddenly become a girl just because they say so? In denial of biological realities?

      Then you are a “person of faith”. Why should you be respected, based on your criteria?

      • No, I don’t actually. Denying one’s biological reality is ridiculous. If you want to get an operation and present yourself to the world as a different sex, than fine, it’s your life, but you can’t just become a different gender because you say you’re different. So no, in that respect I’m not a “person of faith.” Any other questions?

    • Can you prove the God of Israel doesn’t exist. No you can’t. No famous atheist could. You atheists are full of arrogance.

      • Nobody can prove a negative and that’s a ridiculous argument to make. People of faith are the one’s that make amazing claims and provide zero evidence for those claims. The burden is on you to prove what you say, not the other way around. And you say atheists are full of arrogance? Please.

        • I haven’t time to list all the ways Christianity and Christ are documented in history. By the Romans no less, who were not fans but excellent documentarians.

          If you insist on being pedantic, do your own leg work.

          I find it ironic that in all of human history the one of the common threads has been the belief in a higher power. In the case of Abrahamic faiths, consistently for several 1000 years.

          Kinda just like everyone knew boys were boys and girls were girls until just a few years ago.

          But there are always the “enlightened” few who think they know better. But like the trends they espouse, they, too, come and go quickly.

          Why offer respect? Simple, if not obsessed by arrogance. And it’s in your own question. Want respect, give it.

          I do not believe what Mormons, Muslims, or Jehovah Witnesses do. But since the evidence of civilization is far more in the favor of the existence of a Creator, if they are not harming others, I respect their sincerity and right to believe.

          It’s called being a perfect stranger.

          And because I see you coming a mile off, the difference between being accepting of religion and not accepting of transness is simple.
          It is demonstrably provable they are the gender they are, despite what they may claim. Zero need to “take it on faith”, as it were.

          No one can force you to believe something you don’t want to. Myself, I’d not bother trying. That pesky Bible refers constantly to not casting pearls to swine. Or if you prefer, leading reluctant horses to water.

          You do you.

          I leave you with a couple observations.

          -while you claim, accurately, the intellectual problem with disproving a negative, you are then asking us to do the same for you. You have no way to prove God doesn’t exist.

          -back to you get the respect you give. Consider if
          a) you asked your questions as genuine questions instead of thinly veiled gotchas, you might actually get to dialogue with people and have your horizons expanded with other points of view
          b) I do get your frustration with the God Squad here. They seem to think God is responsible for their breakfast choices and will somehow pay off their credit cards. Clearly not familiar with the Scriptures they zealously defend. I’ve barbed some of them myself.

          But snark for snark sake goes nowhere. Unless your aim is personal bias justification.

          • Just because the majority of the people have believed in god for a majority of human existence doesn’t add more gravitas to the truthfulness of that position. A majority can still be wrong and I have every right to maintain my position against any majority, any consensus, anytime, anywhere.

            There’s also a huge difference between the historicity of Jesus and his alleged divinity. All the difference in the world. And of course I can’t prove a negative and I’ve already said that in previous comments. I would have zero problems with religion in practice if the religious didn’t inculcate (or try to) themselves in our secular form of government. And it is (or should be) a secular government because that’s how the framers wrote the Constitution. It’s not just freedom OF religion, its also freedom FROM religion. That document is the supreme law of the land; not the Bible, not the Declaration of Independence, not the Koran.

            And to reiterate my previous comments, I don’t believe that people just suddenly become a different gender because they feel like it. Not sure why people keep bringing that up to me.

          • Statistically, Atheists have a 50/50 chance of being right when arguing that there is no God. On the other hand, you argue that there is a God, and that it is uniquely your version of God. The fact that an infinite number of other conceptual Gods exist puts you and your claim at a distinct statistical disadvantage. Game, Set, Match Athiests.

    • Cman, what you fail to realize is that you, with your radical leftist and “woke”, purely faith-based ideology, are as ready to believe without any evidence — and worse, to believe in the face of evidence proving you wrong — than the most diehard Bible-thumper. You are JUST as religious and dogmatic as they are, just in a different and putatively secular way.

      • First of all, I detest wokeness, so I don’t fall into that category. Second, anything that I believe to be true is based on evidence. Evidence that can be subject to falsification and testing. You cannot test for the existence of god. I don’t take anything on faith. If I did have a purely “faith-based ideology” then wouldn’t a “person of faith” like yourself respect it?

      • Let’s just say that choosing not to believe something in the absence of proof is a whole lot more rational than choosing to believe it without proof.

        Dirty Little Secret: Many people who profess belief in fact don’t, really. They’re pretenders, appearing to be pious solely to avoid rebuke by their religious cohort.

  5. Senator Mike Lee: “I’m not aware of a single state in the United States threatening to pass any law infringing the ability of any same-sex couples to marry or enjoy privileges associated with marriage, nor am I aware of a single state threatening to invalidate, within their borders, marriages entered into in other states, nor is it at all clear that Justice Thomas himself was suggesting that Obergefell be overturned.”

    It doesn’t take a genius of Trump’s caliber to catch Lee’s escape words: “I’m not aware of a single state…., nor am I aware…., nor is it at all clear that Justice Thomas….” On this particular issue, I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks one way or the other! However, I wouldn’t place any faith on what Lee says, nor would I place any faith in any of the other ninety-nine illustrious senators. Only a fool would consider the “weighted thought” of any of these statesmen!

    And “Justice Thomas”–what an oxymoron!

  6. What do your religious beliefs have anything to do with other people’s choices? You are still free to live and believe in whatever you want.

    • Why do your choices have the ability to infringe on my religious beliefs and how I practice them? This concept runs both ways.

      If you want to dress your son up as a girl and call him Betty, go for it. You don’t have the right to force me or my private faith based school to acknowledge it.

      See how that works?

      You’re free do do as you want as well.

    • Except, Curtis, if you don’t want to photograph the ceremony, or cater it, or provide flowers, or bake the cake, or (now) officiate a “marriage” that is abhorrent to you. You most certainly are NOT free to live your life as you choose. Next Saturday you will be doing something repugnant to your religion because the Gay Gestapo damn well told you where you’ll be next Saturday or you and your business will be sued into oblivion.

    • Except the colorado cake baker according to peoples thoughts like your comment presented. If there was any honesty in your comment, then the homosexuals would had accepted him quietly go to another baker and let the poor man alone.

  7. Great speech and summarizes well valid concerns. This legislation was not needed and I would suspect ulterior intent is indeed to silence those that are not on board.

  8. Hey Paola!
    I’d take my chances on weak thinker instead of the two posterior clowns we have now. In my book, weak thinking seems like a step up.

  9. Now, you’re free to be religious if you wish. It’s a free country, after all. But don’t expect or demand that people give you their respect as a result. As far as we’re concerned, you’re a gullible bunch who accept, without question or challenge, whatever comes down from the pulpit. You call that Faith. We call it lunacy.

    What does irritate, however, is the sanctimony that derives from your piety – the attitude that you’re somehow better than the heathen, the belief that you are “saved” while others are damned, and the intention to spread your Faith to the unconverted.

    Increasingly, organized religion is being seen for what it really is – a way of exercising power over the thoughts, actions, and wealth of the population. It’s dying in the US, and for good reason. One can almost hear the last desperate gasp.

    • But what YOU fail to realize, Whidbey, is that it is precisely YOU, and every other radical leftist extremist, who displays the very traits that you decry — “the attitude that you’re somehow better than the heathen, the belief that you are “saved” while others are damned, and the intention to spread your Faith to the unconverted.” Tell me that that is now “wokeism” in a nutshell.
      .
      As I just told Cman here, you are JUST as religious, and just as firm in your faith-based ‘woke’ ideology, as the most radical fundamentalist Christian or Moslem. The only difference is that you pretend that it is a secular political belief. And you even blindly worship a god, that being government.

      • I’m 100% with Whidbey. Jefferson, what Whidbey succinctly put is NOT a religion. That tired argument has been debunked.

    • Actually you’re quite wrong. Evangelicalism is growing among the Latin immigrants. Mormonism is the fastest growing faith in the world. Islam is also growing quickly.

      The only place faith is failing is main stream Christianity. It’s because they went woke and lost people.

      Moreover, the arrogance of people like you blind them to some basic realities, including most of “our people” are well aware of current social trends to dismiss us and punish us. Ergo, we don’t bother to answer your questions.

      If you are equating faith to church attendance and polling, you truly are foolish.

      Your arrogance and ignorance are boundless in these matters. Pridefully so.

      Answer me one question. How many hospitals have been founded by non religious people as opposed to religious ones?

      A bonus one: why is it Samaritans Purse has a long standing track record of being first on the scene and properly utilizing monies donated over any non faith based org in America?

      Maybe you’re right. Maybe we are crazy for spending a disproportionate amount of our time and resources helping people like you.

      But imagine a society where we don’t.
      I can. It’s called San Francisco.

      • Religion has long been a staple in the Latin communities in part because as a culture they’re susceptible to feelings of inferred guilt. I’ve been all through South America from top to bottom and Central America as well. It’s embarrassing to see a vast expanse of impoverished people with a freakishly opulent church building at the town’s core.

        On a trip through Spain recently I was offered the opportunity to purchase an indulgence in front of The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.

        Religion is vile nonsense and faith is a steadfast belief absent evidence.

        BE*LIE*VE

      • Masked, I think you’re confusing belief in a god and the history of christianity. Christianity has existed for years, that’s an undeniable fact and its swell to help others, like founding hospitals. But there is zero evidence for the existence of a god. Plus religionists do more harm than good taken in total. Convincing members to believe in the impossible (like virgin birth or dead men returning to life) is an assault on reason and the scientific method. Relying on prayer as a solution to a problem takes away energy spent toward a tangible solution. Catholics and Mormons believe in gigantic families and it’s my opinion that there is no social or environmental problem that can’t be significantly reduced or eliminated if there were fewer people. Religion robs people of their wealth through tithing. Religionists extend their cultural values from private to public. Anti-abortion laws are based in religion. The birth mandate is a dramatic assault on freedom and families. Religionists insist that marriage is between a man and a woman only. Christians in this country are using violence to change public policy (January 6).

        Religion isn’t a benign social asset. Its poison.

      • Sorry, but you’re confusing good works, to which we subscribe and support, with faith in a fantastical God, and the concomitant conjured-up theology, which we do not.

        Secular humanism works just fine – no hocus pocus required.

      • All you’re question is saying is that religion has social utility. Nothing more. It says nothing about the truth of the biblical claims made by the religious. Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross (although it does have a cross in its symbol, isn’t a religious organization) are just a couple of non-faith based organizations that go throughout the world and help people FOR ITS OWN SAKE; not convert or preach to people. Imagine that?

    • I used to have similar thoughts about religion and people who followed it. Someone who doesn’t believe in God cannot possibly understand what Judiasm, Christianity, and other biblically based religions are about. It’s really easy to judge from where you’re at. Attacking religion is easy. Religion is also the base of our whole society and moral world. Once you start studying the bible and learning more about the old and new testaments, it becomes clear why we care so much about our values. I was raised Jewish, became agnostic/borderline atheist as a young adult, and then more recently Christian. None of it was without question, I’ve been questioning everything. It’s hard to understand when you’re not open to it.

      Anyway, believe what you want. Just don’t think religious followers are stupid people who believe everything they’re told by religious leaders without question.

      • Ceak. So how can a smart gal/guy like you believe in the great flood or the virgin birth? These events are impossible. Never happened. Same with a man rising from death to live again. How can you operate all day being logical, reasonable, scientific and rational but then believe these impossible things?

      • Belief in god is not required to be moral. If that were true, we never would have made it out of the caves hundreds of thousands of years ago. Do you really think the followers of Moses (and there’s zero archeological evidence that their wonderings in the desert ever occurred, but whatever) thought that, until they got to the foot of Mt. Sinai, murder, theft, and adultery were OK? Then Moses came down from the mountain and said, “bad news guys, none of that is kosher?” Please. Morality, that is, the innate sense to care for others and not do terrible things to them, is in the genetic makeup of every person. What about psychopaths; who actually take pleasure in causing pain and suffering to others? Not sure where that fits into your sense of divinely gifted morality.

    • Dog, I don’t know of any Church that demands your attendance. I can only think of Islam as a religion that demands your adherence. No, it’s only the fascist left lib Woke-sters here that demand conformity to a set of ideals.

  10. The poor persecuted religious right plea! December is here time to start screaming about they are cancelling Christmas! Buy yourself a Swanson’s TV Dinner, turn on Fox News and listen to the hate spewing Tucker Carlson!

  11. Just think Whidbey, now you and your pet pig can have that big church wedding you have always dreamt of!

  12. Unlike Sen Sullivan’s letter, Sen. Lee’s speech is empty of actual legal argument or citation. It’s rhetoric, an attempt to persuade, that is based solely on feelings and unsupported conjecture.

    Which is fine, but it is in no way a “counter-point” to a reasoned legal and factually based argument. Indeed it is more akin to the vacuous fear-mongering of the Left over the practical consequences of Dobbs.

  13. If you look at world history, you can see the ‘other’ side of the traditional family unit. Man. Woman. Child. It’s been all around us since the dawn of time. It’s in Art especially if you want to research.
    It’s actually pretty prevalent in religion. He who cast the first stone, let him be without sin. Nope.

  14. The level of debate, even bickering, on here perfectly exemplifies why we have the establishment clause in our constitution. Letting each embrace their own religious faith, in their own manner, is one of the cornerstones of our republic. Its obvious we need to treat marriage the same way; that is, get government completely out of it. Government should have no role in marriage whatsoever. The need to ask permission (a license) from your government to get married is abhorrent. The majority of people cohabitating are not even married anyway. The same for parenting; most are not married. Your marital status should be totally irrelevant to government. Marriages should be nothing more than civil contracts between people or, if they choose, they can involve their church or their god.

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