Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is calling on the 12 Republican senators who voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) 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, together with 20 other Republican lawmakers, wrote Thursday. “The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic. We must have the courage to protect it.”
If added to the act, the proposed Lee amendment would prohibit 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.
The U.S. Senate voted 62-37 Wednesday to move forward with the RFMA — a bill that would federally recognize same-sex marriage and provide legal protections for interracial marriages. Reaching the 60 votes necessary, the legislation moved closer to becoming law.
Lee directed his letter to the 12 Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats in support of the RFMA, The Daily Signal reported. They are: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.
In the letter, Lee listed his concerns.
“Obergefell did not make a private right of action for aggrieved individuals to sue those who oppose same-sex marriage,” he wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on same-sex marriage. “It did not create a mandate for the Department of Justice to sue where it perceived an institution opposed same-sex marriage, but the Respect for Marriage Act will.”
He added: “What we can expect should this bill become law is more litigation against those institutions and individuals trying to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
He called for protecting such institutions and individuals.
“Instead of subjecting churches, religious nonprofits, and persons of conscience to undue scrutiny or punishment by the federal government because of their views on marriage, we should make explicitly clear that this legislation does not constitute a national policy endorsing a particular view of marriage that threatens the tax-exempt status of faith-based nonprofits,” he wrote. “As we move forward, let us be sure to keep churches, religious charities, and religious universities out of litigation in the first instance.”
His amendment, he said, would offer protections.
“My 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.,” he urged. “It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home.”
Lee’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.