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If Senators Care At All About Their Constituents’ Religious Freedom, They Must Amend The Anti-Marriage Bill

Without amendment, the so-called ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ will unleash lawfare against ordinary citizens and faith-based service providers.


On Nov. 8, parents all over the nation were voting out school board members who were either too evil or too gullible to protect children against the left’s perverse and pervasive sexualization. A week later, 12 Republican senators voted for legislation that would unleash the power of the federal government against them. Some of the senators — Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — were the usual suspects. Others blindsided their constituents, who wrongly believed that they would vote on the side of sanity.

Wyoming’s junior senator, Cynthia Lummis, was one of these. Even the Never Trumper Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Wyoming’s senior Sen. John Barrasso voted against bringing the outrageously named “Respect for Marriage Act” to the floor. They know gaslighting when they see it. How did Lummis miss the memo?

Was she not warned? Of course, she was. On July 26, one week after disgraced Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., joined with 220 Democrats to pass “An Act To Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,” H.R. 8404, fourscore and three conservative groups — ranging from the Family Policy Alliance to Wyoming Catholic College — sent a joint letter to explain the harm this legislation would bring.

First, the act will tether federal law to the caprice of the most unhinged states in the union. Whatever a state says marriage is, the federal government would be obliged to act as though it were a sane definition. Temporary marriages? Yup. Incestuous marriages? Yup. Polygamy? Yup.

Second, H.R. 8404 “effectively deputizes activist groups to sue religious individuals, organizations, and businesses,” according to the letter. If your speech does not sufficiently parrot the newest definition of marriage, expect to be bankrupted by legal fees. Private citizens and faith-based service providers both can be taken to federal court by any lawfare machine in the country. All an activist needs in order to claim personal injury is denial of “full faith and credit” to the latest faddish definition of marriage.

Third, the act gives enforcement power to the criminally partisan and politicized Department of Justice to launch investigations that intimidate parents and to file charges that hobble organizations standing up for marriage. Lois Lerner’s legacy ensures that the Internal Revenue Service will use these as a pretext to threaten the tax-exempt status of any 501(c)(3) that fails to memory-hole the historic definition of marriage.

No Protection

H.R. 8404 looked dead until Lummis breathed new life into it by whispering support for an amendment crafted by Tammy Baldwin, R-Wis. Its slithery language claims to add religious liberty protections and draw a line in the sand against polygamy. It does neither.

Competent lawyers can readily see its indecency through the fig leaves. But Lummis’s staff cannot. The catch-all phrase, “Nothing in this Act … shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty,” does nothing to protect Americans from endless lawfare. It is, rather, an invitation to enterprising lawyers and activists.

Lummis has been flooded with letters, emails, and phone calls from her constituents — including the Wyoming Pastors Network — pleading with her not to participate in the advancement of this naked power grab. In September, more than 2,000 “pastors, ministers of the faith, and leaders of religious nonprofit organizations” sent her a letter warning that it “would inflict an injustice on us, the members of our congregations and organizations, and the countless Americans we regularly serve who hold to the eternal truth that marriage is between one man and one woman.” They were ignored.

Last May, Lummis boldly declared to University of Wyoming graduates: “There are those in government who believe not that the Creator endowed us with inalienable rights … but that government created those rights, and that government should redefine those rights.” For these remarks, she was sharply criticized by the very people who believe governments create rights. This author came to her defense because she was right. Her vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act now says that “government should redefine those rights.”

Abraham Lincoln knew that the U.S. Constitution expresses the Declaration of Independence’s central claim, that “all men are created equal.” The Declaration is an “apple of gold” and the Constitution is its “frame of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). For that reason, America’s freedom rests on “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” True governments recognize them. Only tyrannical governments redefine them. Such a break with reality can only be maintained by suppression of any speech to the contrary. H.R. 8404 both departs from historical reality and suppresses the speech of those who say so. If Lummis’s staff assured her otherwise, they lied to her. She is either ill-served by her staff or complicit.

Real Protection

To determine which, don’t listen to her words, but watch what she does. After the Thanksgiving recess, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is expected to bring an amendment to H.R. 8404 that replaces Baldwin’s fig leaf amendment with real protection. It makes explicit and binding the religious liberties that Lummis claims to uphold. She will not only need to support it herself — two other senators from her gang of 12 will need to join her for it to be passed.

Otherwise, the “repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act” will exit the Senate without Lee’s amendment, and the lawfare against ordinary citizens that we have seen over the past decade will pale in comparison to that which the president’s signature will unleash.

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