WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) released the below statement after voting to advance consideration of the Respect for Marriage Act:
“In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court clearly stated that the federal judiciary should not be a policy-making entity. I firmly agreed with this decision, and continue to believe that major policy decisions should be made within Congress and state legislatures.
“I appreciate my fellow West Virginians who have reached out to me regarding the sanctity of marriage, and hold sincere beliefs based on strong traditional and religious values. These convictions must be respected, and no religious entity should be persecuted by any individual, organization, or government institution for the beliefs they hold.
“As such, this piece of legislation ensures all religious liberty and conscience protections provided to religious organizations under the Constitution and existing federal law, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any support for same-sex marriage, or see their benefits, rights, or status, altered when these rights do not arise from the specific issue of marriage.
“This legislation will allow those who have entered into a civil partnership since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, to continue to have their partnerships respected for federal benefit purposes. This does not lessen the traditional sanctity of marriage or jeopardize the freedom of religious institutions. The House-passed legislation raised concerns among many about protecting religious freedoms, which is why my colleagues and I worked to strengthen those protections in the substitute amendment. I will be supporting the substitute amendment because it will ensure our religious freedoms are upheld and protected, one of the bedrocks of our democracy.”
- Same-sex marriage became legal in West Virginia on October 9, 2014, following Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s order requiring state agencies to act in compliance with the recent decisions of federal courts on the unconstitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. The issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples began that same day.
- The Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Specifically, the bipartisan substitute amendment:
- Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.
- Confirms that non-profit religious organizations will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
- Guarantees that this bill may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax-exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage. For instance, a church, university, or other non-profit’s eligibility for tax-exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this legislation.
- Makes clear that the bill does not require or authorize the Federal government to recognize polygamous marriages.
- Recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability, and ongoing protection of marriage.
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