U.S. House expected to pass same-sex marriage bill, showing shift in
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[December 06, 2022]
By Moira Warburton, Julia Harte and Joseph Ax
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill protecting federal recognition of same-sex
marriages that has the support of both LGBT advocates and religious
groups is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday
with bipartisan support, a sign of a significant cultural shift in a
The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the U.S. Senate last week,
was designed as a backstop to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that
legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.
The legislation would allow the federal government to continue
recognizing same-sex and interracial marriages in states where they were
legally performed, should the court strike down Obergefell, a concern
raised after the court ended the nationwide right to abortion in June.
A bipartisan amendment added in November affirmed that the bill would
not subvert existing religious freedoms, helping quell initial
opposition by conservatives. The bill, which was spearheaded by a group
of Democratic and Republican senators, gained the backing of several
national religious groups.
Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, an American Baptist reverend and president of
Interfaith Alliance, said the support for the bill from religious groups
showed that many had undergone a "remarkable transformation" in the way
they perceive same-sex marriage.
He attributed the shift partly to the fact that such marriages had
ceased to be unusual in the United States since the Supreme Court
"The sky didn't fall because same-sex marriage began happening," said
Raushenbush, who is in a same-sex marriage himself. "The specter of
same-sex couples getting married no longer feels scary because it's
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A view of the U.S. Capitol building as
the sunrises in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan
The amendment's support from various religious groups that are
theologically opposed to same-sex marriage reflects the fact that
attitudes have changed, said Tim Schultz, the president of the 1st
Amendment Partnership, which advocates for religious liberty.
"Fighting a permanent culture war over gay rights is not in their
interest as religious organizations," he said. "They believe that
seeking common ground is in the interest of religious freedom, the
common good and how they portray their faith to the world."
Other religious groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention,
strongly opposed the legislation even after the religious freedom
protections were added.
“The ability of (Baptist) organizations to follow their consciences
as they carry out their work has already been a source of conflict,”
Brent Leatherwood, president of the convention’s Ethics and
Religious Liberty Commission, said. “Those waters will only be
further muddied by [the law].”
Several conservative senators pushed back against this
characterization of the bill, which ultimately received support from
a dozen Republicans.
The legislation "offers far more in the way of religious liberty
protections than currently under Obergefell, which leaves all such
decisions up to the courts," Republican Senator Todd Young wrote in
a newspaper opinion piece declaring his support for the bill last
The vote comes the day after the Supreme Court appeared ready to
rule that a Christian Web designer has the right to refuse to
provide services for same-sex marriages, in arguments challenging a
Colorado law banning discrimination.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington, Julia Hart and Joseph
Ax in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis)
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