Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, one of 12 senators who voted for moving the “Respect for Marriage Act” to the Senate floor for a final vote, supports two amendments to the act that have been filed by Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford. The amendments would strengthen religious liberty protections in the act, which creates a federal designation for same-sex marriage and does not provide strong protections as it repeals the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Respect for Marriage Act states: No person acting under color of State law may deny–‘‘(1) full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals; or a right or claim arising from such a marriage on the basis that such marriage would not be recognized under the law of that State on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.”
“Make no mistake, there’s no stopping this bill from final passage,” said Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, earlier this month on the Senate floor.
Color of law may be interpreted to mean that any person, such as judge, legislator, notary public, or minister, who is performing wedding ceremonies, may not withhold their services from same-sex couples, even if by doing so the ceremony would violate the officiant’s religious or moral beliefs. The bill may also be interpreted to mean that the government can strip a business, such as a restaurant, lodge, or wedding venue, photographer, or cake baker, of its business or other licenses if it chooses to not provide services to same-sex weddings.
The law further states, “For the purposes of any Federal law, rule, or regulation in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.”
This part of the bill strips away states’ rights from the matters of marriage and makes it entirely a federally regulated contract, which would have consequences for family businesses all over America.
Sen. Lee has called on the 12 Republican senators who voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act to adopt protections for Americans who believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
“The undersigned ask that you oppose cloture [closing or ending debate] on the Respect for Marriage Act unless the Lee amendment is added to the bill,” Lee and 20 other Republican lawmakers, wrote to the 12 Republicans, including both Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted to move the Democrats’ act forward. “The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic. We must have the courage to protect it.”
The proposed Lee amendment would prevent the federal government from discriminating against anyone who holds a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, or is a union between two individuals.
Sullivan told religious leaders in Alaska last week that he would support the Lee and Lankforc amendments, and a source said he also told others in Alaska during meetings that he would support the amendments.
In a letter sent to the 12 Republicans who voted for the legislation, Lee wrote that his amendment would “ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc.”
The Lee amendment ensures Americans have the right to their faith and deepest convictions.
The 12 Republican lawmakers who voted for advancing the Respect for Marriage Act are Sens. Sullivan, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.
Read more about this development at The Daily Signal, which first reported this story.