Biblical marriage and religious liberty: Ernst 'failed both tests'

Biblical marriage and religious liberty: Ernst 'failed both tests'

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who once defended biblical marriage as a state senator, voted for the Democrat-sponsored Respect for Marriage Act despite pleas from conservatives to oppose it.

Biblical marriage and religious liberty: Ernst 'failed both tests'

One of the 12 traitorous Republican senators who voted for the Respect for Marriage Act is finding a not-so-warm welcome back in her home state, where a conservative leader predicts Joni Ernst’s political future is up in the air after she rejected bedrock religious beliefs about marriage.

One could have predicted the GOP’s most liberal senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, would cave to elbow-twisting Democrats to cross the aisle and support the legislation, but one surprising name among the dozen was Joni Ernst, Iowa’s junior senator.

After the staunch conservative came to Capitol Hill in 2015, she was supposed to be one of the good guys, says Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader.

“She ran as a pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-religious liberty, pro-life Republican in the 2020 race,” Vander Plaats says of her most recent re-election.

Ernst, 52, was serving as a state senator when she successfully ran for a U.S. Senate seat after Tom Harkin, a Democrat, announced he was retiring. She delivered the Republican response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union address just weeks after taking office, and her name was floated as a vice presidential pick for Donald Trump in 2016.

According to a story by Bleeding Heartland, a liberal, Iowa-based blog, then-state senator Ernst had co-sponsored a constitutional amendment in 2013 to defend biblical marriage. The amendment stated a one-man, one-woman marriage is the only legally-recognized union in the state but it failed in the Democrat-controlled legislature, the story says.

When the Respect for Marriage Act showed up for a Senate vote, Vander Plaats tells AFN it was late in the game when he caught hints Ernst might cross the aisle.

“We encouraged her as best as we could to stand firm on God’s design for the family, the cornerstone, which is one-man and one-woman marriage, and for sure for religious liberty,” he recalls. “And she failed both tests.”

During negotiations with fence-sitting Republican senators, Democrats agreed to wait until the midterm elections were over – a nakedly political calculation  – before moving forward on the legislation. Democrats also upset their own religious-hating base by allowing religious liberty language in the bill to win GOP support.

Ernst was among that group that was swayed.

“After hearing directly from Iowans, and closely reviewing the amended language,” Ernst said in a statement, “I believe this bill protects religious freedoms and will simply maintain the status quo in Iowa."

Many right-leaning groups warned GOP senators they were being bamboozled by clever language in the bill, which meant homosexual-activist groups would come after their hated enemies when the bill becomes federal law. Those pleas ultimately went ignored.

As for what's next, Vander Plaats predicts Ernst is hoping voters forget about her vote by the time her seat is up for re-election in 2026.

“I don't think people are going to forget this one,” her tells AFN. “I don't know who would primary her but I do know that her base is exceptionally disappointed in Joni Ernst.”

According to the Bleeding Heartland story, however, Ernst is in a good position for re-election in four years because “marriage equality” has gained “broad acceptance,” and voting against the bill would hurt her down the road. 

“Far better to be on the right side of history,” the liberal blog insisted.