". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Sen. Lee on Marriage Bill: ‘There’s Still Time... We Can Stop This Thing’

November 17, 2022

If you’re waiting for the Georgia runoff to decide what the Republicans’ margins are, don’t bother. Thanks to Wednesday’s marriage vote, we know exactly where the lines are drawn. Heading into this week, a lot of people said that America was about to find out what the Senate GOP is made of. Now we know. Republicans may be down one seat in the Senate, but they’re 12 short where it matters — on principle.

“A conservative who will not courageously defend marriage … is no conservative at all,” Dr. Albert Mohler warned before the party took a vote that broke every confidence its base had. To the grassroots, marriage, like life, should be non-negotiable. And for 37 brave men and women, it was. For 12 others, it was a clear sign that this new chapter of GOP fearlessness does not include them.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) couldn’t believe the timing. “Twenty-nine years ago today,” he reminded his colleagues, “President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill sponsored by then-Representative Chuck Schumer [that] aided in the defense of one of the most fundamental freedoms that we have in our nation — the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” This law, he explained, is part of what makes us “such a unique nation…” It gave us the right to “have a faith of your choosing, change your faith at any point if you choose to, or to have no faith at all — and still be respected as an American.” Now, 29 years later, “Congress is saying ‘nevermind.’”

Like other Republicans, the Oklahoman pressed the bill’s sponsors about the holes in their supposed religious freedom “fix.” Why is it, he asked, that the only thing protected is the actual marriage ceremony? What happened to religious expression? Individual rights? Free speech? Turns out, that was intentional. They told Lankford what they won’t tell the American people, which is, they don’t want individuals to be protected. They don’t want religious beliefs to influence how people carry out their business or their personal lives.

That’s a problem, multiple members have argued. “Everyone seems to nod their head [and agree],” Lankford said, but when Republicans like Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) bring amendments to correct it, Democrats (and their Republican enablers) say, “‘We’re not going to fix it.” “You know what that tells me?” Lankford asked. “These are not mistakes… This was purposeful.”

Lee, who’s led the charge to put the brakes on this disaster, was stumped as to how either side of the aisle could defend a vote to terrorize people for their personal beliefs. “This sets in motion a [dangerous] sequence of events,” he told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins soberly after the vote. “It’s likely to culminate in the removal of tax exempt status from religious institutions … that harbor or share a religious belief about the definition of marriage and whether they accept same-sex marriage.” Why? Because the bipartisan “fix” was a farce. “This is a shell game that ends in the … destruction of religious liberty in America.”

At the end of the day, Perkins said, “We all have a freedom of religion in this country.” “That’s right,” Lee nodded. “It belongs to each of us — not just to institutions. And it belongs to us and to our institutions in way that extend far beyond [the actual marriage ceremony].” Frankly, he said, “… I can accept the idea of the government not discriminating for or against any type of religious institution based on their particular religious beliefs about marriage. Right. What I can’t accept is the government picking winners and losers on the basis of who adheres to a particular favored religious orthodoxy — and punishing those that don’t…”

Others were just as candid about the crisis in store for millions of faithful Americans. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wondered why the bill was even necessary since it would add no new protections for same-sex marriage but does “create great uncertainty about religious liberty.” Frankly, Graham posted, “The refusal to adopt Senator Lee’s amendment, which clearly protects religious institutions … says all I need to know about the potential risks of this bill …”

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) took aim at the Democrats’ justifications for the law, insisting on Perkins’s program that the proposal “goes well beyond Obergefell,” exposing “people of faith in the private sector, people of faith who are in government, people of faith who are in the education sector” to “coercion.”

Mississippi’s Roger Wicker (R) fired a shot across the bow as well, insisting, “I have always believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I have grave concerns this legislation does not sufficiently protect the First Amendment rights of Americans who have a sincere religious objection to same-sex marriage.”

Fortunately, at least from Lee’s perspective, this isn’t over. “Look, this was an initial procedural vote. … We’ve got several other votes that still have to take place. There’s still time.” His hope is that the party’s sellouts will wake up and realize, “‘I got taken for a ride on this one. I got sold a bill of goods. They tried to sell me that bridge, and I bought it.’” If just three of the GOP’s defectors figure out that they’ve been deceived, “We can stop this thing.” Because at the end of the day, Lee insists, “These 12 Republicans are smarter than that.”

To thank the senators who stood on truth and the party’s platform, click on the links of these 37 leaders:

John Barrasso (Wyo.)

Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)

John Boozman (Ark.)

Mike Braun (Ind.)

Bill Cassidy (La.)

John Cornyn (Texas)

Tom Cotton (Ark.)

Kevin Cramer (N.D.)

Mike Crapo (Idaho)

Ted Cruz (Texas)

Steve Daines (Mont.)

Deb Fischer (Neb.)

Lindsey Graham (S.C.)

Chuck Grassley (Iowa)

Bill Hagerty (Tenn.)

Josh Hawley (Mo.)

John Hoeven (N.D.)

Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.)

James Inhofe (Okla.)

Ron Johnson (Wisc.)

John Kennedy (La.)

James Lankford (Okla.)

Mike Lee (Utah)

Roger Marshall (Kan.)

Mitch McConnell (Ky.)

Jerry Moran (Kan.)

Rand Paul (Ky.)

James Risch (Idaho)

Mike Rounds (S.D.)

Marco Rubio (Fla.)

Rick Scott (Fla.)

Tim Scott (S.C.)

Richard Shelby (Ala.)

John Thune (S.D.)

Pat Toomey (Pa.)

Tommy Tuberville (Ala.)

Roger Wicker (Miss.)

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.