Senator Supports Lee, Lankford and Rubio Amendments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act after an amendment ensuring religious liberty protections for people in Wyoming was adopted, and after she and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) conducted a colloquy on the legislation to ensure courts interpret the Respect for Marriage Act in a manner that protects religious liberty.
“As a Christian and a conservative, ensuring that the religious liberties of people in Wyoming are protected and that no institution would be forced to perform a ceremony that is not in line with their values is absolutely essential. The amendment I cosponsored ensures religious organizations are protected from government retaliation and the tax-exempt status of non-profit religious organizations is not impacted in any way. Additionally, the Wyoming Constitution protects the political equality of all people, and I believe this legislation is in line with that protection.” Lummis continued.“Striking a balance that protects fundamental religious beliefs with individual liberties was the intent of our forefathers in the U.S. Constitution and I believe the Respect for Marriage Act reflects this balance.”
Lummis cosponsored the substitute amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act with Senators Sinema, Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that preserves and strengthens religious liberty protections beyond current law. This amendment was included in the final bill.
Lummis voted in favor of amendments introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), James Lankford (R-OK), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Lee’s amendment, which was language from the First Amendment Defense Act, which Lummis previously cosponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives, would have added additional protections for religious liberty and allow states to provide higher levels of protection than those required by federal law. The Lankford amendment would have clarified that no partnership between a religious organization and a state can be considered state action under this bill. Sen. Rubio’s amendment would have struck a private right to sue states for failure to accord full faith and credit to a marriage recognized by a state. These amendments failed to be adopted and were not included in the final bill.
Lummis and Sinema conducted a colloquy on the Senate floor to ensure courts interpret the Respect for Marriage Act in a way that gives maximum effect to the religious liberty provisions of the bill. This is important because courts often turn to legislative intent in lawsuits to determine the meaning of a provision. This colloquy provides additional safeguards beyond the strong text of the bill to ensure that religious organizations cannot be targeted by activist groups, the Internal Revenue Service or any other agency of the Federal Government. Senator Lummis successfully included these important protections for religious non-profit organizations in the final legislation.
Before the vote, Sen. Lummis spoke on the Senate floor.
A video of the religious liberty colloquy can be found here.
Senator Lummis successfully included several provisions in the Respect for Marriage Act that safeguard religious liberties and protect faith-based institutions. In the Respect for Marriage Act, the following sections of the bill provide and in many cases strengthen protections for religious organizations:
– Section 2 acknowledges that those Americans who believe same-sex marriage is morally wrong have “sincere,” “reasonable” and “honorable” beliefs that are worthy of respect by Congress and the Federal Government, preempting application of a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court case, Bob Jones v. United States, that could impact religious liberty.
– Section 6 specifies that no church, religious organization or individual will ever be required to perform a same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges could be interpreted in the future to potentially require churches to perform same-sex marriages or imperil their tax-exempt status without action by Congress, and sections 6 and 7 of the amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act closes this serious loophole forever.
– Section 7 explicitly states that nothing in the bill shall allow the Federal Government to alter or remove the tax status, government contracts, grants, loans, benefits or eligibility for other government programs with respect to non-profit organizations or individuals that oppose same-sex marriage.