Dozens of faith-based organizations back Respect for Marriage Act as Senate vote stalls – The Hill



The story at a glance

  • Dozens of religious organizations called in a letter to senators on Friday for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify the rights to same-sex and interracial marriage.

  • Forty faith-based organizations signed the letter, saying the right to marry the person of one’s choice is “a matter of human dignity”.

  • The legislation was passed by the House in July, but will not be put to a Senate vote until midterm elections in November.

Dozens of religious organizations are supporting federal legislation to protect the right to same-sex and interracial marriage, calling on Senate lawmakers to support the Respect for Marriage Act in a new letter to Congress.

“Across faith traditions, we honor the common principle that every person has inherent dignity and worth,” 40 leading faith-based organizations, including the Interfaith Alliance and Catholics for Choice, wrote on Friday. “And everywhere we live, we share a desire to care for our families with love and commitment.”

“Within our communities, we approach issues of marriage, family and identity differently,” the groups wrote. “This bill recognizes this diversity of beliefs while ensuring that same-sex and interracial couples are treated with equal respect in the public sphere.”

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In July, House lawmakers passed the Respect for Marriage Act — a federal law that would require all states to legally recognize same-sex and interracial unions and formally repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in supporting the measure.

On Thursday, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), one of the measure’s chief negotiators in the Senate, announced that action on the bill would be delayed until after the midterm elections in November. The move is expected to increase support from Senate Republicans who seek stronger religious freedom protections.

“We are confident that when our legislation comes to the Senate for a vote, we will have the bipartisan support to pass this bill,” a bipartisan group of negotiators including Baldwin and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said Thursday. joint statement.

On Friday, religious leaders said the right to marry was ‘a matter of human dignity’ and urged the Senate to pass the legislation outside of their ‘shared religious obligations to care for our neighbors and pursue justice’ .

“We think it’s really important that senators and everyone on the Hill understand that this is a bill that has religious support,” said the Reverend Paul Raushenbush, chairman and CEO of the Interfaith Alliance, an organization that champions religious freedom and diversity. America Friday.

A March Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll found that the majority of major religious groups support same-sex marriage, including 83% of American Jews, more than 70% of Catholics and Protestants, and more than half of Muslims.

A poll released earlier this week by the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ+ rights group, found that more than two-thirds of likely voters in congressional battleground states support legislation protecting the nation’s right to same-sex marriage. , of which 55% are Christians.

Raushenbush, a gay man and Baptist clergyman for more than 25 years, said measures such as the Respecting Marriage Act would not undermine religious objections to same-sex marriage, as some critics have suggested. What this would do, he said, is protect the ability of religious leaders who affirm these unions to have them protected by law.

“When I talk about it, it’s because I’m protecting my family,” he said. “I also protect my religious freedom as a religious leader who has married hundreds of people – some of whom are same-sex couples – to whom I feel obligated because I solemnized the marriage and gave it sanctity. in the eyes of religion and in the state,” he said. “And I don’t abandon the couples I marry.”

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