Sen. Mike Lee’s Amendment to Safeguard Religious Liberty for Americans Who Hold to Traditional Marriage Fails By One Vote

Senator Mike Lee’s (R-UT) religious liberty amendment to the Democrats’ same-sex marriage bill failed by just one vote, 48-49, an outcome that, if the legislation is signed into law, could give a green light to the federal government’s retaliation against nonprofit faith organizations, such as schools and businesses, whose religious beliefs are incompatible with gay marriage.

The Senate voted Tuesday, 61-36, to codify same-sex marriage into federal law with the help of 12 Republicans, as the Senate Press Gallery noted:

While Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) voted in favor of Lee’s religious freedom amendment, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a pro-abortion Republican, voted against it. Collins joined with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay senator, on a religious freedom amendment that Lee referred to as “woefully insufficient.”

Lee asserted that, without the protections provided in his amendment, “it will be open season on the rights of the faithful.”

The senator called the rejection of his amendment a “discouraging development in our country’s storied history of protecting the free exercise of religion”:

Despite the support of every voting Republican but one, and even a Democrat, the Respect for Marriage Act just passed without my amendment, which would have prevented the government from retaliating against religious individuals and institutions for their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“While I’m disappointed that my amendment was not included, I remain committed to preserving the religious liberties enshrined in our Constitution for all Americans,” Lee added.

During a speech on the floor of the Senate, Lee asked, “Who wouldn’t want to deny the federal government the authority to retaliate against religious individuals and institutions in a way that is categorically abusive?”

Joe Biden called the Senate’s passage of the legislation Democrats call the Respect for Marriage Act a “bipartisan achievement”:

I’m grateful to the determined Members of Congress — especially Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis, and Feinstein — whose leadership has underscored that Republicans and Democrats together support the essential right of LGBTQI+ and interracial couples to marry. I look forward to welcoming them at the White House after the House passes this legislation and sends it to my desk, where I will promptly and proudly sign it into law.

CatholicVote President Brian Burch said in a statement the votes in favor of the legislation by 12 Republicans were votes “to undermine religious freedom and expose Catholics to debilitating lawsuits brought by those seeking to silence our voices in the public square.”

“Those in Congress who dismissed legitimate warnings about this bill and the harms that would be caused by it must be held accountable,” Burch added. “This bill was designed from the start as a political weapon for leftwing activist groups to harass and shut down conscientious Americans who hold fast to the time-honored institution of marriage.”

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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Sen Mike Lee” by Mike Lee.


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