KEY VOTE: Senate · Nov 16, 2022

Heritage Action opposes the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

The Senate will soon vote on the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404), an unnecessary piece of legislation that is a direct attack on religious liberty. The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. However, DOMA has already been rendered totally inoperative by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell and Windsor decisions, meaning the only practical impact of the Respect for Marriage Act would be to put a giant target on the backs of institutions and people of faith.

The bill takes aim at the sincere religious and moral beliefs of a large portion of American society who believe in traditional marriage by turning those beliefs into discrimination. By setting a national policy of same-sex marriage, the Respect for Marriage Act would be used to paint those with sincerely held disagreements as bigots who cannot be allowed to partner with government or retain tax-exempt status. As the Heritage Foundation writes:

…the only reason to add Congress’ explicit blessing… is to cement same-sex marriage as national policy that can be used as a club by government agencies, such as the IRS, to deny traditional religious institutions tax-exempt status, licenses to assist in adoptions, and government funding and contracts.

Just months after Democrats used the Inflation Reduction Act to fund 87,000 new IRS agents, the Respect for Marriage Act would be giving those new agents carte blanche to harass and target religious schools and other faith-based entities that oppose same-sex marriage and eventually strip them of their tax-exempt status. Worse, it would create a roving license to sue anyone acting “under color of law” - a loosely defined term that would include those providing government-funded or -regulated services. As a result, adoption centers and foster care providers with religious objections to same-sex marriage would have to close down.

Proponents of the legislation have pointed to the recently added Tillis-Collins-Baldwin amendment that purports to address the religious liberty problems in the original bill. However, this amendment is far from adequate. Senators have an opportunity to instead improve the bill with Senator Mike Lee’s First Amendment Defense Act amendment, which would address the religious freedom issues at stake. Members should reject the Tillis-Collins-Baldwin amendment and support the Lee amendment.

Finally, Congress shouldn't be passing ANY controversial legislation in the lame duck. The Respect for Marriage Act was passed by a House of Representatives whose leadership was just rejected by the American people. Slipping this bill through the Senate in the lame duck just a week after the American people voted is an intentional ploy to hide from voters.

The Respect for Marriage Act is the next step in the radical Left’s continual march toward eliminating religious liberty. Senators who vote in favor of this legislation will be complicit when institutions and people of faith are targeted, harassed, and dismantled for their sincerely held beliefs.

Heritage Action opposes the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404) and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.