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
Family Policy Alliance CEO and President
president and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
President, Colson Center for Christian Worldview
First Liberty Institute president, CEO and chief counsel
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld
President, Coalition for Jewish Values
president, The Heritage Foundation
President, Family Research Council
president, Focus on the Family
CEO and president, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President
Christian Legal Society, executive director
Liberty Counsel, founder and chairman
President, American Principles Project
president, Summit Ministries
president, Religious Freedom Institute
Steven W. Fitschen
president, National Legal Foundation
John W. White III
President, Lifeshape Inc.
Them Before Us, founder and director
president, Association of Christian Schools International
President, American Association of Christian Schools
president, Alaska Family Action
Arkansas Family Council President
president, Christian Employers Alliance
Paul S. Teller
executive director, Advancing Americans Freedom
President and CEO of the Conservative Partnership Institute
CEO, C12 Group
David S. Dockery
president, International Alliance for Christian Education
Philip E. Dearborn
president, Association for Biblical Higher Education
president, Center for Arizona Policy
California Family Council President and CEO
Family Institute of Connecticut executive director
President, Delaware Family Policy Council
President, Florida Family Policy Council
president, Frontline Policy Action of Georgia
Hawaii Family Forum’s president and CEO
Hawaii Family Advocates president
Bob Vander Plaats
President and CEO of Family Leader
Idaho Family Policy Center, president
David E. Smith
executive director, Illinois Family Institute
Indiana Family Institute, executive director
Kansas Family Voice executive director
executive director, Family Foundation
Louisiana Family Forum president
President and General Counsel, Massachusetts Family Institute
Christian Civic League of Maine executive director
Michigan Family Forum executive director
Minnesota Family Council, chief executive officer
President, Center for Political Renewal
Missouri Family Foundation, executive director
president, Montana Family Foundation
John L. Rustin
North Carolina Family Policy Council president
Tami L. Fitzgerald
executive director, North Carolina Values Coalition
Nebraska Family Alliance, executive director
President, Nevada Family Alliance Capitol Resource Institute
Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire executive director
Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey, founder
executive director, New Mexico Family Action Movement
Jason J. McGuire
executive director, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms
President, Center for Christian Virtue
President, Pennsylvania Family Council
executive director, Rhode Island Family Advocate
president and executive director, Palmetto Family Council
Family Heritage Alliance executive director
president, Family Action Council of Tennessee
president, Texas Values
President, Family Foundation of Virginia
James A. Davids
chief counsel, Founding Freedoms Law Center
President, Family Policy Council of West Virginia
President, Wisconsin Family Action
Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming executive director
Robert M. Myers
president, Toccoa Falls College
president, Colorado Christian University
director, Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University
Kent J. Ingle
president, Southeastern University
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