Monday, November 21st 2022, 6:21 pm
It appears one of the issues that will be front and center in the waning days of the 117th Congress -- right there with funding the government and passing a defense bill -- is protecting same-sex marriage.
The Respect for Marriage Act would update federal law to make it consistent with the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which said that state laws making same-sex marriage illegal were unconstitutional.
"Make no mistake, there's no stopping this bill from final passage," said Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week on the Senate floor.
Schumer and Democratic leadership have been pushing for such legislation ever since the Supreme Court's conservative majority overturned Roe v Wade, and hinted that other cases -- including Obergefell v. Hodges -- perhaps also ought to be reconsidered.
The Respect for Marriage Act passed the House in July and cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate last week, thanks in part to an amendment to add in religious liberty protections. Twelve Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to close debate on the bill.
Both Oklahoma Senators voted no.
"So, I have a real problem with this," said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in an interview last week.
Senator Lankford said same-sex marriage is already protected under the 2015 court ruling and said the religious liberty protections added to the bill are incredibly weak.
"It basically says you don’t have to perform a same-sex wedding," said Lankford, "but other than that, if you’re whatever belief that you may be that you may disagree, whether it’s a religious belief or a conscience belief, then you’re going to be cut out of society."
But some of Lankford's Republican colleagues disagree, noting that the bill was reviewed by constitutional scholars and advocates for religious liberty.
"And they sent us a letter," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), "concluding that, overall, this legislation is, and I quote, 'an advance for religious liberty', end quote."
If, or when, the bill does gain final passage in the Senate, because of the amendment, it will have to go back to the House for final consideration there.
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