Same-Sex Marriage Bill Aims ‘to Crush Anyone Who Opposes Belief in Gay Marriage’: Senator
A Republican senator has said he will “absolutely oppose” a bill redefining marriage nationwide, warning that liberal activists plan to “use it as a weapon” to drive Christians out of the public square.
During Wednesday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) announced for the first time that he will vote against H.R. 8404, marketed as the “Respect for Marriage” Act, if it comes to the Senate floor.
“It removes all protections from marriage,” Lankford told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The legislation, which the Senate could consider shortly, imposes a top-down mandate for every state to recognize any “marriage between two individuals.” That could include “time-bound marriages, open marriages, marriages involving a minor or relative, platonic marriages, or any other new marriage definition that a state chooses to adopt” — including any definition imposed by a judge or state Supreme Court, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.
“I want to bring this bill to the floor,” said Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”
“The far-Left is trying to say we want to be able to push this to the next step” of the sexual revolution and “take it where it has not ever gone before,” said Lankford. “And we are going to absolutely oppose that.”
Part of that effort involves silencing religious Americans from speaking out against them. If the Senate passes H.R. 8404, “in all likelihood, this bill will then come straight at every nonprofit that believes in traditional marriage, biblical marriages — quite frankly, historic marriages across all of time,” he added. Any tax-exempt group that upholds scriptural marriage “will be challenged on their tax policy and will immediately become a target of this federal government.”
Overzealous federal bureaucrats, left-wing legal groups, and LGBTQ pressure groups are no longer saying, “We demand recognition” of same-sex marriage, said Lankford; they’re now saying, “We’re going to crush anyone that opposes our belief in gay marriage.”
That is no mere speculation. The California state Senate passed the “Youth Equality Act” in 2013 to strip some state tax exemptions from organizations accused of “discriminating” on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The law “brings our laws into line with our values,” said its sponsor, then-state Senator Ricardo Lara, who is now the California’s Insurance Commissioner. The drumbeat to place organizations that affirm biblical sexual morality beyond the pale has since continued apace, as professors have lobbied regulators to reinterpret existing standards. Obama-era IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner, who crusaded against the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, mired the Obama administration in scandal by denying nonprofit status to Christian, pro-life, and limited government applicants.
“They want to take it the next step and then use” the bill “as a weapon [against] others” after this bill passes, Lankford forecasted.
The Oklahoman is far from alone in warning about the bill’s malign and chaotic effects. “The Respect for Marriage Act will further usher in this new era of oppression” toward faithful Christians and observant Jews, the Conservative Action Project wrote to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), citing 10 lawsuits brought against believers who refused to lay aside their faith in the workplace.
McConnell reiterated on Tuesday that he will not take a position on the matter until the bill comes to the Senate floor. The bill was , two days after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill with 47 Republican votes. McConnell’s rival, Chuck Schumer, will need 10 Republican supporters to overcome a potential Senate filibuster.
After five Republican senators announced they are leaning “yes” on the bill, more senators have come forward to publicly oppose the measure. The most recent is Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I’m opposed to this bill and believe it’s another attempt by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to distract the American people from the inflation crisis, energy crisis, and the southern border crisis they’ve created.”
Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), too, revealed his opposition, calling the bill “an attempt by Democrats to score political points by manufacturing hysteria and panic, in addition to escalating their ongoing attacks against the [Supreme] Court.”
That brings the count to 11 Republican senators who openly support marriage, with eight having already made their opposition clear: Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
The vast majority of Republican senators have yet to take a public stand on marriage.
Although Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to review Obergefell v. Hodges and other cases involving “substantive due process” in his concurrence — which no other justice joined — the Dobbs ruling states it does not apply to other issues, specifically naming marriage, and the likelihood of overturning Obergefell seems remote. “I don't think we should be spending time on a non-issue and a non-problem,” insisted Rubio. Political analysts say the Democratic Party intends to use social issues such as abortion, redefining marriage, and contraception to blunt Republican gains in the 2022 midterm elections. “This is an issue, I think, to generate voter intensity for our Democratic colleagues,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Yet some who accuse Democrats of flogging non-issues in order to gin up their voting base intend to reward the tactic nonetheless. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), considered the most vulnerable Republican incumbent up for reelection this year, described the Respect for Marriage Act as “another example of Democrats creating a state of fear over an issue in order to further divide Americans for their political benefit.” While he feels “the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary,” he has also told reporters, “should it come before the Senate, I see no reason to oppose” the bill.
But Bible-believing Christians say they will not cede the definition of marriage — or endanger believers’ ability to make their voice heard in the United States. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Lankford added. “That’s not just a biblical concept and a worldview concept, but that’s a historic concept, as well.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.