Senator James Lankford (R-OK) on Wednesdsay took to the Senate floor to share his opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act, which he believes will lead to the violation of Americans’ religious liberty and their constitutional freedom to live their faith.
Lankford remains the strongest voice for religious liberty, both domestically and internationally, in the Senate. Existing laws that protect Americans’ First Amendment rights, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, continue to see numerous challenges from Congress as people of faith continued to be targeted from all directions. But the Supreme Court continues to side with the First Amendment to keep the federal government from forcing people to violate their religious and moral beliefs. Lankford applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and he submitted an amicus brief in the case of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, calling for the Supreme Court to review a circuit court decision that prohibits a Colorado business owner from exercising her free speech and religious liberty rights.
Lankford supported the Supreme Court’s unanimous holding in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia that Philadelphia was wrong to require Catholic Social Services to shed their faith in order to serve children and families and reaffirmed that no one should be discriminated against or compelled by the government to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Lankford signed on to a brief asking the Supreme Court to take the case. Lankford introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would protect faith-based child welfare providers, like Catholic Social Services, from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
Lankford also introduced his Conscience Protection Act to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers, including health insurance plans, from government discrimination if they decline to participate in abortions.
…Then today…my colleagues move forward on a bill that instead of promoting equality for all people of all opinions, it specifically highlights areas of specific faith differences and says their opinions won’t count this time. It deals with this issue of marriage, which has been a controversial issue in America but was quite frankly since 2015, in the Obergefelldecision in the Supreme Court there have been no case move in the country to deny same-sex marriage to any individual, in any state across the nation. Today, my colleagues moved forward on a bill to open up debate—without amendment may I add—on a bill that would that would certainly affect the religious liberty of countless people across the country.
…rising up, reading the text of the bill…and saying there is a problem. Practically what would this mean? Practically what could this mean? I would say first and foremost we don’t want anyone to be discriminated against in America–anyone to be discriminated against in America. All individuals should be honored. All individuals should be able to live their lives in freedom in America. But practically, this bill puts faith-based child welfare organizations who are operating in a accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs to place children with loving families, it puts them in jeopardy. And while some of my colleagues may say that is far-fetched, may I remind you the Supreme Court has already handed out a decision in the Fulton case and remind them that this is continuing to happen…
…After the decision in Obergefell was made, President Obama spoke to the nation. He supported the Obergefell decision from the Supreme Court. He said this, ‘I know that Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact; recognize different viewpoints; revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.’ Great words that seem to be on the cutting room floor today. It hasn’t taken long for President Obama’s statement after the Obergefell decision to say, ‘Never mind.’