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Politics: House Democrats block religious liberty amendment to same-sex marriage bill

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House Democrats have blocked a Republican amendment that would have strengthened religious liberty protections in the Respect for Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill that would require the federal government to recognize all marriages, including same-sex marriages, that are legal in the state where they took place.

The House Rules Committee held a hearing Monday afternoon on an amendment offered by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, that would have prohibited the federal government from retaliating against any individual or organization that opposes same-sex marriage on religious or moral grounds. Committee Chairman Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., refused to allow Roy's amendment to advance to the House floor, explaining that Democrats want to pass the Respect for Marriage Act during the lame-duck session of Congress before Republicans take over the House next year.

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"If we were to amend this, and it goes back to the Senate, for all intents and purposes it's dead for the year," McGovern said. "And many of us believe that we have a court right now that is hellbent on trying to reverse the rights for the LGBTQ community, and we do not trust them to respect marriage equality in this country."

The bipartisan marriage legislation is a result of a months-long push by Democrats to codify same-sex marriage amid fears the Supreme Court might reverse its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Those fears, which Republicans assert are unfounded, are based on a lone Supreme Court opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in June in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Thomas said the court should "reconsider" its precedent on the issue.

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SENATE PASSES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BILL WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14: Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) speaks with reporters as he arrives to a House Republican Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on November 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14: Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) speaks with reporters as he arrives to a House Republican Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on November 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

No other justices joined Thomas. But that opinion became a major campaign issue for Democrats and spurred lawmakers of both parties to craft legislation that would require states to recognize same-sex marriage in case that precedent eventually falls.

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To that end, the U.S. Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act in a bipartisan vote of 61 to 36 last week. The Senate bill included language that purportedly protects religious liberty and instructs that nonprofit religious organizations "shall not be required to provide services" to a marriage it opposes, but conservatives have called those protections "severely anemic." House Democrats are now setting up a vote on the bill without amendment.

Republican Senators are failing to protect religious liberty

  Republican Senators are failing to protect religious liberty In mid-November, 12 Republicans joined every Democrat in the Senate in voting for cloture on the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, which overcomes the filibuster and allows the bill to move forward for finalization. While the name of the bill may sound attractive to those who support religious liberty, the bill’s contents are anything but respectful of religious liberty and free association. Rather than respect marriage, and particularly in its traditional understanding, this bill takes away protections from the faith-based communities and people that hold to the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

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Roy's proposal was identical to one offered in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., that had bipartisan support but did not pass. The congressman expressed frustration that the House would not be permitted an opportunity to debate and vote on his amendment.

"Later this week, Congress will vote to redefine marriage and hand LGBTQ activists a legislative sword to freely swing at innocent Americans. Yet, before today, not a single committee held a hearing, heard from witnesses, or deliberated the details of this legislation. Instead, members of Congress will be forced to vote up or down on a bill that they were not allowed to amend or even serious debate," Roy told Fox News.

PROGRESSIVES GRUMBLE AS RESPECT FOR MARRIAGE ACT ADVANCES: ‘I HATE THE SENATE BILL’

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA - OCTOBER 07: Congressman James P. McGovern, chairman of the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives holds a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, on October 07, 2021. The congressman visited the country to verify the Human Rights situation during the National Strike. He also met with the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, to talk about the use of donations made by the US government to Colombia for public forces and about the implementation of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former armed group of the Farc. (Photo by Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images © Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA - OCTOBER 07: Congressman James P. McGovern, chairman of the Rules Committee of the United States House of Representatives holds a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, on October 07, 2021. The congressman visited the country to verify the Human Rights situation during the National Strike. He also met with the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, to talk about the use of donations made by the US government to Colombia for public forces and about the implementation of the Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the former armed group of the Farc. (Photo by Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

"No free American should have to live in constant threat of having their life upended and ruined in court for holding millennia-old religious beliefs. Further, every American deserves to know whether their representative wants the federal government to target people of faith."

Roy voiced his concerns to the Rules committee on Monday, but they fell on deaf ears.

McGovern told Republicans on the committee that when they assume control of the House in January, "you can bring one amendment after another to reverse the last 70 years of social progress."

"We will oppose you on that," he added.

Fox News' Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.

How senators 'defied political gravity' on same-sex marriage .
WASHINGTON (AP) — Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin was on the Senate floor, but her mind was on the other side of the Capitol. The House was voting that July afternoon on Democratic legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to an abortion. And it was suddenly winning more Republican votes than Baldwin — or anyone else — had expected. Baldwin, who became theThe House was voting that July afternoon on Democratic legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to an abortion. And it was suddenly winning more Republican votes than Baldwin — or anyone else — had expected.

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