United States: Respect for Marriage Act

December 03, 2022
Source: fsspx.news
Cardinal Timothy Dolan

After the House of Representatives, it was the Senate’s turn to vote in favor of an Act aimed at enshrining same-sex marriage into federal law, paving the way for a vote by the entire Congress before the start of the year 2023. Conservative American bishops have denounced it as a threat to religious freedom.

The Respect for Marriage Act”is one last progressive law that the Biden Administration is trying to ram through, before the Democrat-controlled legislature comes to an end at the beginning of January 2023.

The project took shape in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in June 2022, ending the federal right to abortion, and especially since a Supreme Court justice, the very conservative Clarence Thomas, suggested that the earlier Supreme Court ruling creating same-sex marriage might now be in the sights of the highest American court, the ostensible guarantor of the United States Constitution.

Unsurprisingly, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of the amendment in July 2022, with the 220 Democrats joined by 47 Republicans. But to ensure a favorable vote in the Senate, in which the Democratic majority is tenuous, it was necessary to reassure the members of the GOP – Grand Old Party, the nickname of the Republican Party – present in the upper assembly.

To do so, a slightly tweaked version of the amendment was crafted, promising to exempt “non-profit organizations” – priests and pastors, among others – from having to perform same-sex marriages. This scheme was quickly denounced by the American episcopate.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was quick to step up: “Those protections fail to resolve the main problem with the Act: in any context in which conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex civil marriage arise, the Act will be used as evidence that religious believers must surrender to the state’s interest in recognizing same-sex civil marriages.”

And the Archbishop of New York, also spokesperson for the Commission for Religious Freedom of the Episcopate, in a written letter, warns: “Wedding cake bakers, faith-based adoption and foster care providers, religious employers seeking to maintain their faith identity, faith-based housing agencies — are all at greater risk of discrimination under this legislation.”

And the high prelate concluded, saying, “The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. In doing so, we are joined by millions of what the Obergefell Court called ‘reasonable and sincere’ Americans – both religious and secular – who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage.”

As expected, the Respect for Marriage Act received the majority of votes from senators, with twelve Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats on November 29, 2022.

Next is the reconciliation of the two versions of the Act. If the two chambers of the American legislative body, meeting in Congress before 2023 - because time is against the Democrats who will no longer have the majority in the two chambers as of January 2023 - agree on the same text of the amendment, the American president will have a free hand to enshrine “same-sex marriage” in law.