Conservatives Urge Senators to Reject House’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Conservative leaders call on senators not to pass the House-passed legislation Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to codify into federal law the Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. 

“The Act, which was suddenly rushed through the House without any public hearings or input, is an attack on millions of Americans, particularly people of faith, who believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” wrote more than 80 conservative leaders, along with the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, in a letter Tuesday to Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The letter writers feel that the bill will compromise religious freedom rights of individuals or groups in the nation if it is passed.

While the bill “does nothing to change the status of, or benefits afforded to, same-sex marriage in light of Obergefell, it does much to endanger people of faith,” they wrote.

The signers are Michael Farris who is the president and CEO for Alliance Defending Freedom; Kevin Roberts who is president of The Heritage Foundation; Ryan T. Anderson president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Tony Perkins president of Family Research Council; Craig DeRoche president and CEO Family Policy Alliance; and Jim Daly president of Focus on the Family. (The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet, The Daily Signal, is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.

The authors of the letter noted that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito correctly predicted the Obergefell ruling would “be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” as the justice wrote in his dissent to the 2015 case.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the conservative activists argued, could “require federal recognition of any definition of marriage without any parameters whatsoever.” They also fear that the bill, should it pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president, would encourage left-wing activist groups to sue individuals and organizations who do not conform to H.R. 8404’s definition of marriage.  

The Conservative Action Project is a separate entity. statement released Tuesday urging senators to oppose the Respect for Marriage Act, cited previous lawsuits.

They pointed out the case Barronelle Stutzman’s florist, who was sued in Washington for refusing to create floral arrangements at a same-sex marriage. Alliance Defending Freedom petitioned the Supreme Court to take up her case in 2017. Stutzman settled her case four years later and retired after her appeals on two occasions were denied by the high court.

The Conservative Action Project statement also mentioned the cases of Jack Phillips and Aaron Klein, both from Colorado, who were sued because they refused to design cakes for gay weddings. 

The statement authors fear those cases are only the beginning, writing: “The Court’s decision in Obergefell unleashed religious freedom violations across the land, launching a new era of harassment and coercion of millions of Americans who hold a sincere religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is, or ought to be, between one man and one woman.”

The Conservative Action Project’s statement garnered signatures of more than 80 conservative leaders, many of whom also signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell. The signers include Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; the Family Research Council’s Perkins; and Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project. 

According to the statement, the Respect for Marriage Act would not only “increase the threat of legal liability for those who decline to affirm same-sex marriage, but it would help cement a ‘national public policy’ on same-sex marriage that would have drastic consequences.”

Farris comments on the letter from the coalition to McConnell remarked:

Despite claims from its sponsors, the so-called ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ doesn’t simply codify the Obergefell decision. It requires the federal government recognize all marriage definitions adopted by a state without limitation.

It also empowers the government to punish millions of Americans who hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage—beliefs that have existed since time immemorial—exposing citizens to predatory lawsuits and even endangering the nonprofit status of faith-based organizations.

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The following is a full list of those who signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell: 

Michael P. Farris 
President and CEO, Alliance Defending Freedom  

Ryan T. Anderson

president, Ethics & Public Policy Center  

Craig DeRoche 

Family Policy Alliance CEO and President 

Franklin Graham 
president and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association  

John Stonestreet 
President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview 

Kelly Shackelford 
First Liberty Institute president, CEO and chief counsel 

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld 

President, Coalition for Jewish Values  

Kevin Roberts

president, The Heritage Foundation  

Tony Perkins 
President, Family Research Council 

Jim Daly

president, Focus on the Family  

Penny Nance 
CEO and president, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee  

R. Albert Mohler Jr. 
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President 

David Nammo  

Christian Legal Society, executive director 

Mat Staver

Liberty Counsel, founder and chairman  

Terry Schilling 
President, American Principles Project 

Jeff Myers 

president, Summit Ministries  

Thomas Farr 
president, Religious Freedom Institute 

Steven W. Fitschen  

president, National Legal Foundation  

John W. White III  

President, Lifeshape Inc. 

Katy Faust 

Them Before Us, founder and director 

Larry Taylor
president, Association of Christian Schools International

Mike Rouse
President, American Association of Christian Schools

Jim Minnery 

president, Alaska Family Action

Jerry Cox
Arkansas Family Council President

Brian Burch 

CatholicVote president

Shannon Royce
president, Christian Employers Alliance

Paul S. Teller

executive director, Advancing Americans Freedom

Ed Corrigan
President and CEO of the Conservative Partnership Institute

Mike Sharrow 

CEO, C12 Group

David S. Dockery
president, International Alliance for Christian Education

Philip E. Dearborn 

president, Association for Biblical Higher Education

Cathi Herrod
president, Center for Arizona Policy

Jonathan Keller

California Family Council President and CEO

Peter Wolfgang
Family Institute of Connecticut executive director 

Nicole Theis
President, Delaware Family Policy Council

John Stemberger
President, Florida Family Policy Council

Cole Muzio
president, Frontline Policy Action of Georgia

Eva Andrade 

Hawaii Family Forum’s president and CEO

Jim Hochberg
Hawaii Family Advocates president

Bob Vander Plaats 

President and CEO of Family Leader

Blaine Conzatti
Idaho Family Policy Center, president

David E. Smith 

executive director, Illinois Family Institute

Ryan McCann
Indiana Family Institute, executive director

Jeff Bennett 

Kansas Family Voice executive director

David Walls
executive director, Family Foundation

Gene Mills
Louisiana Family Forum president

Andrew Beckwith
President and General Counsel, Massachusetts Family Institute 

Carroll Conley
Christian Civic League of Maine executive director 

Jeff Hewson
Michigan Family Forum executive director 

John Helmberger
Minnesota Family Council, chief executive officer 

Jameson Taylor
President, Center for Political Renewal

Jannique Stewart
Missouri Family Foundation, executive director 

Jeff Laszloffy
president, Montana Family Foundation 

John L. Rustin
North Carolina Family Policy Council president 

Tami L. Fitzgerald

executive director, North Carolina Values Coalition 

Karen Bowling
Nebraska Family Alliance, executive director 

Karen England
President, Nevada Family Alliance Capitol Resource Institute 

Shannon McGinley

Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire executive director 

Len Deo
Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey, founder 

Jodi Hendricks
executive director, New Mexico Family Action Movement 

Jason J. McGuire
executive director, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms 

Aaron Baer

President, Center for Christian Virtue

Michael Geer
President, Pennsylvania Family Council 

Dave Aucoin
executive director, Rhode Island Family Advocate 

Dave Wilson
president and executive director, Palmetto Family Council 

Norman Woods
Family Heritage Alliance executive director 

David Fowler

president, Family Action Council of Tennessee

Jonathan Saenz 

president, Texas Values 

Victoria Cobb
President, Family Foundation of Virginia 

James A. Davids
chief counsel, Founding Freedoms Law Center

Caiden Cowger
President, Family Policy Council of West Virginia 

Julaine K. 

President, Wisconsin Family Action 

Nathan Winters

Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming executive director 

Robert M. Myers 

president, Toccoa Falls College 

Donald Sweeting 

president, Colorado Christian University 

Jeff Hunt
director, Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University 

Kent J. Ingle 
president, Southeastern University 

Ben Merkle
president, New Saint Andrews College 

Troy A. Shoemaker

President, Pensacola Christian College 

Barbara C. McMillin 

President, Blue Mountain College 

Jason K. Allen
president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College 

Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver

Union University President 

Glenn C. Arbery

President, Wyoming Catholic College