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November 17, 2022

Yesterday, 12 Republican Senators joined with all the Democrats to pass the “Respect for Marriage Act.” It got 62 votes, two more than needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. It now goes back to the House, which will almost certainly pass it, since they already passed their version with the support of 47 Republicans, and then President Biden will sign it into law. There’s not much that can be done about it, even though this is one of those bills like the “Inflation Reduction Act” where the sunshine-and-lollipops name has little to do with the actual contents.

The RFMA codifies the Supreme Court decision in which a majority of Justices miraculously found a right to same-sex marriage hiding in the Constitution where nobody else had noticed it for over two centuries (I wish I had these guys with me for Easter egg hunts, or when the TV remote is lost.) It doesn’t force states to issue same-sex marriage certificates, but it does require them to recognize those issued in states that do.

Republicans justified their votes for it because it includes a GOP amendment exempting religious nonprofit organizations such as churches, synagogues, mosques, religious schools and faith-based social service organizations from lawsuits for not recognizing same-sex marriages. That's good, as far as it goes. However, critics pointed out that it does nothing to protect the religious rights of private citizens and business owners, a number of whom have been hounded, smeared and bankrupted by malicious lawsuits and prosecutions to force them to compromise their religious beliefs and participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, somethat that the activists who pushed for same-sex marriage claimed would never happen. Remember, "If you oppose same-sex marriages, just don't participate in them"?

If they were going to issue such a ruling, the SCOTUS should have at least affirmed clearly that the enumerated, fundamental, First Amendment right to religious freedom takes precedence over a right they just suddenly found hiding behind a dangling participle. They did not, and ever since, it’s caused incredible grief, expense and persecution for a number of Americans of faith. Now, Congress is about to write that mistake into law.

How many more years of legal persecution must religious people endure before the SCOTUS finds this law unconstitutional? Or will they, at long last, finally do their duty even then?

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