Mike Lee Laments Senate Rejection Of Religious Liberty Amendment

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) released a statement following a vote in the Senate regarding a religious liberty amendment to the Democrats’ so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” — lamenting the fact that the amendment failed to pass.

As the same-sex marriage legislation passed without his amendment protecting religious freedom, the Utah senator called the move a “discouraging development in our country’s storied history of protecting the free exercise of religion.”

“Despite the support of every voting Republican but one, and even a Democrat, the Respect for Marriage Act just passed without my amendment, which would have prevented the government from retaliating against religious individuals and institutions for their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage,” Lee’s statement read.

“This is a discouraging development in our country’s storied history of protecting the free exercise of religion,” the statement continued. While I’m disappointed that my amendment was not included, I remain committed to preserving the religious liberties enshrined in our Constitution.”

Lee’s amendment was Republicans’ best hope of ensuring that religious liberty is protected following the passing of the “Respect for Marriage Act” — as it “would have prohibited the federal government from punishing individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax exempt status, licenses, contracts, benefits, etc.,” according to reporting from Breitbart News.

The Democrats’ legislation passed with a vote of 61-36, as the same 12 Senate Republicans who initially voted alongside Democrats to advance the bill once again came out to support it. The so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” is now headed back to the House for a vote as early as next Tuesday, where it was initially passed over the summer with the help of 47 Republicans.

Before the bill was passed, the Senate rejected Lee’s religious liberty amendment by a slim margin — just 48-49. The 12 Republicans who ultimately voted in favor of the legislation supported the amendment.

Prior to the vote, Lee spoke on the Senate floor.

“Who wouldn’t want to deny the federal government the authority to retaliate against religious individuals and institutions in a way that is categorically abusive?” he asked.

Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) also proposed religious liberty amendments to the bill, which were both rejected 45-52 in simple majority votes.

Following the final vote, Lankford blasted the Democrats’ bill.

“The Respect for Marriage Act isn’t about equality,” Lankford said. “It’s about making some people’s rights more important than others. I voted against this bill because it will lead to violations of Americans’ constitutional right to live their faith.”

Meanwhile, Democrats celebrated the bill’s passing, ignoring the fact that critics argue it does not provide adequate protection for Americans’ religious freedoms.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent out a tweet stating that “no one should be discriminated against because of who they love.”

The White House released a statement from President Joe Biden praising Senate Democrats’ victory and vowing to sign the bill into law if it passes in the House.

“With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, and Americans should have the right to marry the person they love,” the president’s statement reads in part.