On Tuesday evening, the United States Senate passed the “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA) after rejecting several amendments proposed by Republican senators to ensure protections for religious liberty in the bill.
Breitbart reports that all three of the amendments introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were defeated by large margins; the Lankford and Rubio amendments were rejected by votes of 52-45, while Lee’s amendment, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 48-49. The bill itself was then passed by a margin of 61-36, once again with 12 Republican senators joining the Democrats in favor, just as they had during a prior procedural vote to move the bill forward by ending debate on it.
Lee’s amendment would have forbidden the federal government from targeting individuals, nonprofit organizations, and other entities based on their religious views on marriage through such methods as revoking of tax-exempt status, contracts, licenses, and other government benefits.
“Who wouldn’t want to deny the federal government the authority to retaliate against religious individuals and institutions in a way that is categorically abusive,” Lee asked shortly before the vote.
Although the bill already has a “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience” amendment introduced by a group of Democratic and Republican senators, conservatives argue that the amendment does not go far enough and does not guarantee any further protections that are not already mentioned in the Constitution.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which could hold a vote as soon as next Tuesday.
The RFMA was first proposed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year. In his concurring opinion in the Dobbs ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas hinted at the possibility that the Supreme Court could use the precedent set by Dobbs to also consider whether or not other so-called “rights” such as gay marriage are actually guaranteed by the Constitution.