Religious organizations, including orphanages, women’s shelters, and schools, would likely be subject to crippling lawsuits if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) becomes law.
At issue is the creation of a private right action for “any person who is harmed” by any entity operating “under color of state law” that does not recognize a marriage recognized by the state in which it took place. The intentionally vague phrasing makes the provision ripe for abuse. To protect faith-based organizations, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) filed an amendment to strike the private right of action.
- “This bill does not protect religious liberty. Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.” – Senator Rubio
Although the bill would protect nonprofits whose “principal purpose” is the “study, practice, or advancement of religion,” it would not protect other faith-based organizations. As a result, an orphanage run by nuns who do not want to place children with same-sex couples could be sued in federal court by any individual. The same is true for other faith-based entities acting “under color of state law,” another intentionally vague and ambiguous term.
Looking forward … Rubio filed an amendment to strike the private right of action from the RFMA and will use every procedural tool available to force senators to go on the record.