Lummis and Gonzalez Are Latest to Be Censured over Same-Sex Marriage Vote
Republican party officials have censured two more members of Congress for voting in favor of same-sex marriage, including the U.S. senator who cited her Christian faith as the reason she chose to support a bill that critics say stifles religious liberty.
The state Republican Party of Wyoming has formally censured Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and a GOP chapter in Texas censured Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), for supporting the so-called “Respect for Marriage” Act (RMA). The legislation, which opponents dubbed the Disrespect for Marriage Act, struck down state and federal laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and paved the way for Christian business owners to be sued if they try to live out their faith in the workplace. President Joe Biden signed the bill during a celebratory event in the nation’s capital last December attended by drag queens, church officials, and Grammy winner Sam Smith.
Since the Republican party “adheres to the ideal of marriage being between one man and one woman,” Lummis’s advocacy for the bill stands “in direct contradiction to the Wyoming Republican Party Platform, which is properly approved by the Republican Party that the Senator was elected to represent,” said the “Resolution to Condemn” Lummis. The party “condemns Senator Lummis for placing her personal interests … above those of the constituents she serves,” says the measure that the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee adopted last Saturday, although the language was originally passed by a county party affiliate on January 30.
Lummis played a pivotal role in the RMA’s passage, giving an impassioned speech on the Senate floor that, while she upheld the Bible’s teachings of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman, she would vote for the legislation. Lummis said at the time that her decision to become one of 12 Republican senators who voted for the bill should not be interpreted as “embracing or validating” same-sex marriage but as a “simple act of tolerating” it. Yet she seemed to step away from that view in comments she made to Wyoming local media. Lummis told Cowboy State Daily at the time of the state party’s condemnation, she was attending a Republican Party fundraiser with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), who “ironically stated, ‘The Republican Party is the party that believes in and protects individual personal freedom.’”
“Sometimes I think Republicans struggle to figure out who we really are as much as Democrats do,” said Lummis, apparently linking same-sex marriage to “freedom.”
Her staff has also lashed out against her critics, while digging in their heels about the senator’s record. “Sen. Lummis stands by her vote for the Respect for Marriage Act due to its expansive protections of religious liberties as well as its adherence to the Wyoming and U.S. Constitution,” said Lummis’ chief of staff, Kristin Walker. Yet the Senate rejected expansive religious liberty amendments offered by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), settling for an amendment that merely says nonprofits do not have to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, an activity not typically engaged in by nonprofits of any kind. The RMA offered nothing to private-sector workers such as Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips.
The same reasons figured prominently in the condemnation of Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), whose vote displayed a “lack of fidelity to our founding principles, our national and state constitutions, and the Republican Party of Texas,” the censure said. The Medina County GOP invoked Rule 44, which allows party officers to condemn elected officials who violate party principles at least three times in one two-year legislative period.
“Tony Gonzales has been a poor representative for his Republican constituents,” concluded the resolution, which was adopted on February 7. The Republican Party of Texas platform declares its belief in “self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.” The platform also boldly states, “Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.” The party also criticized Gonzales for voting against a conservative House rules package and border security legislation, and for voting in favor of more restrictive gun control laws.
“Good for Medina County GOP for calling out Rep. Tony Gonzales for going against Republican principles and the Republican Party of Texas platform, by supporting same-sex marriage; and being the only U. S. House or Senate Republican from Texas to vote for this Democratic, and anti-religious freedom, legislation,” Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values Action, told The Washington Stand. “This should be a warning to all other Republicans in Texas: Don’t mess with marriage and religious freedom.”
The latest actions represent the ongoing fallout against dozens of Republicans who backed the nationwide marriage redefinition bill, with its anemic religious liberty provisions. Senator Joni Ernst and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (both R-Iowa) earned the ire of a dozen local Republican committee chairs in Iowa last December. “The Pelosi-Schumer ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ poses an existential threat to religious liberty and tax-exempt status of organizations,” the GOP chairs noted, adding that “homosexuality clearly violates the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, the source of our rights.” The group promised to field a primary challenger against Miller-Meeks, who won her last primary by only six votes.
Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) came under withering attack from Cass County Republican Party Chair David Richey, shortly after the Senate vote last December. “Your decision elicited feelings of anger, disbelief and even a sense of betrayal,” said Richey. ‘We are not just fiscal conservatives, but social conservatives as well.”
Both of North Carolina’s U.S. Senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, felt the swift condemnation of Republican Party leaders last December. The Granville County Republican Party declared the two Republicans have “by their votes, deliberately abandoned the national and state party platforms on marriage” and “further marginalized the natural family” by redefining marriage. “I, and so many other Republicans, must have given Senator Tillis too much credit. We would have never conceived that he would betray a principle of the party platform as sacred as the one supporting traditional marriage,” said Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.