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The Misnamed “Respect for Marriage Act” Threatens Religious Liberty and Children’s Rights

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill deceptively called the Respect for Marriage Act in a 267-157 vote. The bill isn’t about marriage or respect at all, but about imposing a unbibilcal view of marriage and sexuality on the entire country.

The bill comes in response to Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion in the Dobbs case. Thomas noted that Obergefell, the US Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, should be reconsidered in light of faulty interpretations of the 14th amendment, which guarantees “equal protection” under the law. “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ […] we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”

If Obergefell is overturned, and the Respect for Marriage Act is passed by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden states would no longer be able to define and recognize marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The act would also require federal recognition not only of same-sex marriage,  but any one state’s definition of marriage without any parameters. This means plural marriages, time-bound marriages, polygamy, open marriages, marriages involving a minor or relative, platonic marriages, or any other new definition of marriage that a state chooses to adopt could be recognized federally.

The bill also authorizes activist groups to take legal action against religious individuals, organizations, and businesses that operate in accordance with their sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Not only does it undermine the nuclear family and religious liberty, but it would also strip children of their most basic right to a father and mother.

Children don’t have the knowledge or power to advocate for themselves, and they bear the brunt of the consequences when it comes to marriage and family issues such as divorce and same-sex marriage. We cannot defend children and their rights without defending natural marriage between one man and one woman. 

Thankfully, 80 national and state leaders, including California Family Family, have signed a letter calling on US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to back down from his support for the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. The letter calls the bill “a startling expansion of what marriage means—and who may be sued if they disagree—that threatens the freedom of numerous ‘decent and honorable’ Americans of different faiths, creeds, and walks of life who wish to live consistent with their deeply-held beliefs.”

Instead of tearing down an institution proven to strengthen societies, help children thrive, and promote human flourishing, Congress should respect the conscience rights of Americans who embrace God’s design for marriage and families.

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