On Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act by a vote of 62-37. The bipartisan legislation attempts to keep the status quo on marriage equality by requiring states to recognize all legal marriages of same-sex and interracial couples. It does not require states to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Watch some of the debate prior to the vote on Wednesday:
Franklin Graham riles up his base with false claims about the Senate’s same-sex marriage protection bill | RawStory.TVFranklin Graham riles up his base with false claims about the Senate’s same-sex marriage protection bill | RawStory.TV
Despite its sponsors extreme efforts to ensure existing religious rights are not compromised, far-right-wing Christian activist Franklin Graham is making extremely false claims about the legislation and riling up his supporters on social media.
The bill and its accompanying amendment do such a good job of protecting religious liberties that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, has issued a statement supporting it.
“We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” the LDS Church said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The bipartisan legislation includes two Republican U.S. Senators as original co-sponsors: Rob Portman of Ohio, and Susan Collins of Maine.
Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the original sponsor of the bill, and Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, also an original co-sponsor, is taking the lead for the Democrats.
A joint press release that also includes Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC), states an amendment to the bill, which Republicans fought for, ensures no religious rights will be impacted.
The amendment, their statement says, “Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.”
It also “Confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage,” and “Guarantees that this bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax-exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage. For instance, a church, university, or other nonprofit’s eligibility for tax-exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this legislation.”
Here’s how Franklin Graham characterized the legislation.
“The deceitfully named Respect for Marriage Act will be voted on by the U.S. Senate this week, as early as Wednesday,” he writes overnight to his 10 million Facebook followers.
The bill is being prioritized because the House this summer already passed a similar bill, and should Republicans take the majority it’s unlikely it would even be allowed to go to the floor for a vote, much less pass.
As NCRM reported earlier, supporters also want the Senate to act quickly, given U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has encouraged marriage equality opponents to bring cases that could allow the Court to strike down its ruling in Obergefell. As many Americans learned this summer when the Court struck down its 49-year old ruling in Roe v. Wade, laws that remain on the books can go back into effect immediately.