(CNSNews.com) – The so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” signed into law by President Joe Biden amid a cheering crowd on Tuesday, codifies federal recognition of legally performed same-sex marriages (and interracial marriages).
But the law does not prohibit the federal government from retaliating against people or groups that hold sincere religious beliefs and moral convictions about marriage.
Conservatives warn the law will be used against them, deliberately, to attack religious freedom.
“I think they’re valid concerns,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham Tuesday night.
“I mean, Laura, was interracial marriage being even debated in this country? Nobody’s talking about that. They’re using the power, I think, of the federal government in ways that will absolutely put religious institutions in difficult spots, if you have people who are so inclined to be very aggressive against that. And I don’t think it was — there was certainly no need to do this, and I do think that those concerns were valid.”
Before the bill was signed, same-sex marriage rights in the United States derived, most recently, from the 2015 Obergefell Supreme Court decision, which Justice Clarence Thomas said had been wrongly decided.
Crossing a line
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said the “Respect for Marriage” bill reminds him of the Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act,” which had nothing to do with inflation.
“The respect for marriage act doesn’t have anything to do with respecting marriage,” he said. “It’s about trampling on our religious freedoms, our religious liberties. And that should be, Laura, a line in the sand for Republicans. We should never cross that line. We should always vote against attacks on our religious freedoms.”
Banks said adoption agencies, for example, may be challenged for placing children only in traditional families — those with a mother and a father. “This bill attacks the religious liberties of those types of organizations,” Banks said.
“In fact, Senator Mike Lee tried to pass an amendment that would stop lawsuits against faith-based groups, and Democrats blocked that amendment.”
Although the law includes protection for mixed-race marriages, Banks said that’s beside the point: “For generations, interracial marriage has been legal in America, so there’s no attacks on that. This is all about attacking people of faith, attacking the nuclear family, people who speak out in favor of traditional marriage and attacking your religious freedom.”
In Christian religious tradition, marriages are perform in the presence of God to join “a man and a woman” in a bond established by God, a bond signifying the union between Christ and his Church, “and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people,” as one Book of Common Prayer phrases it.
While heterosexual marriage is an ancient institution, recognized in some form across many cultures, homosexual marriage is not. The first legal same-sex marriages in the United States took place in 2004, 18 years ago.
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