In the previous July 19 vote in the House, Democrats in favor of the bill were joined by 74 Republicans. The effort was led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sought to get 10 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for the bill; 12 ultimately did.
A bipartisan amendment to the bill pertaining to religious freedom ensures that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide services, facilities, or goods for the celebration of a same-sex marriage, and protects religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, CBS News reported. It also makes clear the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriage.
Finally, the amendment adds language ensuring that churches, universities, and other nonprofit religious organizations would not lose tax-exempt status or other benefits for refusing to recognize same-sex marriages and would not be required to provide services for the celebration of any marriage, the New York Times reported.
The RFMA represents one of the first legislative responses to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. While the majority opinion in Dobbs said that “this decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Democrats have pointed to Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion suggesting the court should reconsider all “substantive due process” cases, including the 2015 Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage.
The Catholic bishops of the United States urged Senators in July to oppose the RFMA, citing the importance of stable marriages for the well-being of children and society, and expressing concerns about the bill’s effect on the religious freedom of those who hold to a traditional definition of marriage.
“It is unfortunate that Congress has not responded with a meaningful effort to help women in need with unexpected or difficult pregnancies. Rather, it is advancing an unnecessary bill to create a statutory right to same-sex civil marriage, which some claim is threatened by Dobbs, even though the Supreme Court’s majority was explicit in its Dobbs holding that the decision had no bearing on the issue,” wrote Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, in a letter to senators.