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Religious Organizations, Constitutional Scholars Support Religious Freedom Protections in Baldwin-Collins Marriage Equality Bill

Washington, D.C.—A growing number of religious and legal groups have expressed their support for the religious freedom protections contained in the Respect for Marriage Act that passed the Senate last night by a vote of 62-37.  U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have been leading the push to enshrine marriage equality in federal law, and they recently introduced an amendment with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to add protections for religious liberties.


Constitutional Law Professors


“We are constitutional law scholars who have studied, taught, and written about the law of religious liberty for decades.  All of us have persistently argued for religious liberty in legislatures and in the courts, including liberty for believers and institutions with objections to facilitating same-sex marriages.  We believe that H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), with the additional religious freedom protections you have proposed, is a good and important step for the liberty of believers to follow their traditional views of marriage.  Its protections for religious liberty, while not comprehensive, are important, especially in the context in which RMA arises.”


—Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia; Thomas C. Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota); Carl H. Esbeck, R.B. Price Professor Emeritus of Law and Isabelle Wade and Paul C. Lyda Professor Emeritus of Law, University of Missouri; Robin Fretwell Wilson, Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law, University of Illinois College of Law



Center for Public Justice


“As a Christian public policy organization we are committed to policies that respect the dignity of all people. In our society with its many diverse communities of belief, justice requires creative pluralist policies. The religious freedom protections designed into the amended Respect for Marriage Act embody this pluralist approach. We commend you and your colleagues for your commitment to protecting religious freedom in our changing culture.”



Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


“We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  We believe this approach is the way forward.  As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”



Council for Christian Colleges & Universities


“This amendment provides explicit Congressional support for the truth that traditional marriage supporters and their beliefs are decent and honorable as was stated by the Supreme Court in Obergefell.  It also sends a strong bipartisan message to Congress, the Administration, and the public that LGBTQ rights can co-exist with religious freedom protections, and that the rights of both groups can be advanced in a way that is prudent and practical.”



Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America


“…[W]e note that your recognition that religious liberty interests must be explicitly and substantively addressed in the context of this kind of legislation is itself an essential act in a nation devoted to the principles of diversity, tolerance and religious freedom.  We thank you for your work with us and other faith partners to craft these important legislative provisions.”



Seventh-day Adventist Church


“Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America would like to express our profound appreciation for your commitment to the protection of this nation’s historical and treasured religious freedoms in the context of the codification of same-sex marriage recognition.  We are grateful for the members of Congress and their staff who have constructively engaged with us and with other faith institutions to ensure that the Respect for Marriage Act acknowledges that ‘reasonable and sincere people’ can have ‘decent and honorable religious or philosophical’ reasons to maintain traditional convictions about marriage.”



National Association of Evangelicals


“Thank you for diligently working to ensure the inclusion of important religious freedom protections in the Respect for Marriage Act, which is currently before Congress. Your efforts, if successful, will produce the first significant bipartisan legislation in many years advancing religious freedom for all, including for those who hold traditional views on marriage.”