Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), fiercely fighting an uphill battle to protect religious freedom, wrote a letter urging his colleagues to attach his amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act, which seeks to codify same-sex marriage into law.
Lee’s amendment passionately defends the right of religious people and religious institutions from predatory actions of the Federal government. In Lee’s letter to his colleagues, he notes a frightening exchange between Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli in 2015 during the oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Supreme Court required states to license and recognize same-sex marriage.
When Alito asked whether religious universities opposed to same-sex marriage would lose their tax-exempt status, Verrilli replied, “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito — it is going to be an issue.”
“And it is an issue,” Lee writes in his letter. “Obergefell did not make a private right of action for aggrieved individuals to sue those who oppose same-sex marriage. It did not create a mandate for the Department of Justice to sue where it perceived an institution opposed same-sex marriage, but the Respect for Marriage Act will. What we can expect should this bill become law is more litigation against those institutions and individuals trying to live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions.”
“As we move forward, let us be sure to keep churches, religious charities, and religious universities out of litigation in the first instance. No American should face legal harassment or retaliation from the federal government for holding sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” Lee cautions his colleagues.
“My amendment 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,” Lee explains.
“The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic. We must have the courage to protect it,” he concluded.
We still have time to protect religious liberty. We’re asking our colleagues to support my amendment. pic.twitter.com/y7JXkxNXTZ
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) November 19, 2022
Lee’s amendment states: “The federal government may not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction, that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of — one man and one woman, or two individuals as recognized under Federal law.”
The amendment states that “discriminatory action” includes an action taken by the Federal government to “alter in any way the Federal tax treatment of, or cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed against, or deny, delay, or revoke an exemption of taxation” to any of the people of whom the preceding paragraph refers to.
The amendment also forbids “discriminatory action” including disallowing a deduction for Federal tax purposes of any charitable contribution by the aforesaid people, as well as withholding Federal grants, funds, etc., from such people.
“A person may assert an actual or threatened violation of this title as a claim or a defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief or any other appropriate relief against the Federal government,” the amendment declares.