‘No Need to Do This’: DeSantis Questions the Purpose of the “Respect for Marriage Act”
Gov. Ron DeSantis was on Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle recently and questioned the purpose of the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which was recently signed by President Joe Biden.
For context, the law seeks to codify gay marriage into federal law in accordance with the 2015 Obergefell decision and includes protections for interracial marriage.
During his interview, The Fox News chyron read that the new law “restricts freedom of speech and religion.” DeSantis agreed that the new law poses that risk.
“They’re using the power, I think, of the federal government in ways that absolutely will put religious institutions in difficult spots if you have people who are so inclined to be very aggressive against that,”
Defenders of the law have pushed back on this notion, arguing the Act won’t be used to violate religious liberty. They cite the fact that the Act has carveouts, preventing religious institutions from being forced to perform same-sex marriages and that it doesn’t mandate individual states to issue marriage licenses. However, the Act does force states to recognize marriage licensures from other states. What’s more, it has no protections for religious citizens living by their faith in areas of life other than worship. The Act only protects nonprofits whose “principal purpose” is the “study, practice, or advancement of religion” and will not cover other faith-based organizations or individuals.
Early warning signs indicate that this may be exactly what happens. Florida Senator Marco Rubio proposed an amendment to protect the freedom of religious Americans in all capacities, such as in operating businesses, women’s shelters, and schools.
“This bill does not protect religious liberty. Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. The Senate had a chance to fix this obvious problem, but it failed. Now faith-based organizations will suffer the consequences.”
-Senator Marco Rubio
Several other senators proposed similar amendments. They were all rejected.
Issues along these lines have come up before. Gay marriage has long been codified under Colorado state law, which allowed a gay couple to sue a Christian baker who refused to create a wedding cake to celebrate their relationship. The case made it to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled the baker could not be forced to act against his faith. The “Respect for Marriage Act” creates an excuse for similar lawsuits nationwide. With all amendments to prevent such action rejected, the Supreme Court and its precedent are the only barriers to religious Americans being compelled to act against their faith.
DeSantis expressed his agreement with the concerns, noting that, given that Obergefell has protected gay marriage since 2015 and that multiple states have codified it, the law is unnecessary.
“I don’t think — there certainly was no need to do this. I do think those concerns are valid,”
Other defenders of the law have pointed out that the Act officially codifies interracial marriage into federal law, along with gay marriage. During his interview, DeSantis argued this portion of the law was also redundant and was merely a useful angle to attack opponents of the law overall.
“Was interracial marriage even being debated in this country? Nobody’s talking about that.”
DeSantis is correct. Interracial marriage was protected by the Supreme Court Case Virginia v Loving in 1967, and all 50 states fully legalized it in all 50 states by 2000. The issue has not been controversial in decades, and opposition is generally political suicide.
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