The bill Democrats named the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R.8404) – which has been deemed the "Disrespect for Marriage Act" by several faith-based groups – would make same-sex "marriage" the law of the land. The vote tonight will determine if Utah Senator Mike Lee's religious freedom amendment is included.
Senator Lee, in describing his amendment, says it would ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take "discriminatory actions" against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based or their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax-exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc.
"It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home," the GOP lawmaker adds.
Jameson Taylor is director of policy and legislative affairs for American Family Association. He says as currently written, the bill would eviscerate almost every religious freedom protection that currently exists and weaponize federal agencies against people of faith.
"[That's why] it is absolutely necessary that the Respect for Marriage Act get amended so that it authentically protects religious freedom," Jameson emphasizes.
AFA is asking its supporters to flood their senator's office with calls and emails expressing two concerns.
"The first is that there is a real potential for harm from the weaponization of federal agencies – the IRS, the FBI," Jameson explains. "The second thing that you can share with your senator is that there is a real option to protect religious freedom with the Mike Lee amendment."
Twelve Republican senators broke ranks and voted on November 16 for the bill to move forward. According to Jameson, at least three of those need to be persuaded to vote against the measure when it comes up for a final vote.
"There were several surprises among the [Republican] senators who voted for the Respect for Marriage Act," he tells AFN. "[For example] Todd Young of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roy Blunt of Missouri."
But the AFA spokesman emphasizes all of those Republican senators need to hear all the voices of those who oppose H.R.8404 – not just from those who are their constituents.
"We need to get as many calls as we can into the U.S. Senate so that other senators can be aware of these problems," Jameson concludes. "[Then] they could share these sentiments with their other colleagues."
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.