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Unsurprisingly, on Tuesday evening, 12 Republican senators lined up to give Democrats exactly what they wanted in passing the Orwellian-named “Respect for Marriage Act.”
Ostensibly billed as a way to protect gay marriage from future Supreme Court challenges by codifying it at the federal level, there was no actual threat of that anywhere on the horizon. In fact, even with perhaps the most conservative Supreme Court that the nation will ever have, there might be one vote on purely technical grounds to overturn Obergefell. In short, this was a cheap exercise in virtue signaling that ignored any and all unintended consequences.
Who in the GOP caucus voted for it? As my colleague Kira Davis shared in her initial write-up, it was a lot of the usual suspects.
- Roy Blunt, MO
- Richard Burr, NC
- Shelley Moore Capito, WV
- Susan Collins, ME
- Joni Ernst, IA
- Cynthia Lummis, WY
- Lisa Murkowski, AK
- Rob Portman, OH
- Mitt Romney, UT
- Dan Sullivan, AK
- Thom Tillis, NC
- Todd Young, IN
While I had held out some small sliver of hope that a few Republicans in the above group would stand on principle and force the passage of Sen. Mike Lee’s amendment to the bill, that didn’t happen. The Utah senator’s amendment would have at least put in place clear language protections for religious liberty. Instead, Lee’s gambit failed and 12 GOP senators who had the power to hit the brakes signed onto the final result anyway.
That means that the bill passed without any real protections for religious people in the public square. “Bake the cake” just became the law of the land, and Republicans helped make it happen.
The move underscores a bigger trend among the Republican establishment. That is, they believe they can simply fold enough to take issues off the table in order to set up wins elsewhere. It’s a naive game that never works. Many of those who voted for this bill voted for the senate’s recent gun control bill. It took less than two weeks for Democrats to once again start demanding an “assault weapons” ban. You can’t take issues off the table by bending the knee because the march of progressivism never stops.
What makes this more frustrating is that many of the same senators listed above will gnash their teeth the next time someone’s religious liberty is infringed upon, not even bothering to admit they created the environment for it to happen. When that happens, the rest of us will know who to blame.