The Mississippi-based American Family Association has encouraged its supporters to call their senators, requesting they take a strong stand against the Respect for Marriage Act. AFA argues it threatens several constitutional rights as well as the tax status of Christian schools, universities, and nonprofits.
Family Research Council in Washington, DC, also opposes the measure, calling it a "disaster for religious liberty."
Legislation labeled the "Respect for Marriage Act" (H.R.8404) would put same-sex marriage into federal law, codifying what the Supreme Court did in the Obergefell decision in 2015. On July 19, the bill passed the House (267-157) with the support of 47 Republicans. To pass in the Senate, it only needs ten GOP votes to link up with the 50 Democrats.
Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist-Dallas says the measure may well get the Republican votes needed to send it to President Joe Biden's desk. "There are many Republican leaders who vote for conservative principles, not out of conviction, but out of convenience," says the Southern Baptist pastor in reference to GOP support for the bill.
For example, when asked if he would support the measure, Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) replied: "I see no reason to oppose it." Other GOP senators who have said they will vote for the legislation include Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina; and Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) has also supported same-sex marriage in the past.
Then there's North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer, who, as an evangelical Christian, believes marriage is between a man and a woman – but, as he has stated: "It's not like I feel super strongly about it, either." Several other Republicans have said they are undecided, including Utah's Mitt Romney, Missouri's Roy Blunt, Iowa's Joni Ernst, and Indiana's Mike Braun.
That would make ten Republican "ayes" if all those identified as either supporting or undecided vote in favor.
GOP Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas) have both stated their clear opposition to H.R.8404.
Pastor Jeffress tells AFN: "I think politically, the issue is lost. But spiritually, we as the Church have the responsibility to continue to proclaim God's truth."
What if DOMA goes down?
But the bill does much more than just write same-sex marriage into law. It repeals the Defense of Marriage Act which has safeguarded the ability of churches and Christian businesses to live out their sincere and biblically responsible religious belief. Jeffress says it would be a catastrophic loss if DOMA is axed.
"What you will see happen at some point is, the federal government will deny tax-exempt status to those organizations that sanction what they believe is hate speech, which includes believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman," he shares.
He also predicts churches could be forced to hire homosexual pastors – and the rights of Christian bakers, photographers, and the like would be erased.
"An argument is going to be the federal government should not support any religious college or church that espouses what they deemed to be hate speech," Jeffress concludes. "The handwriting is clearly on the wall right now."
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was introduced in May 1996, passed both houses of Congress by large, veto-proof majorities, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. It allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex unions and instead required states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed.