The congressional vote on the so-called Respect for Marriage Act illustrates how moral principles can easily give way to public opinion. One senator noted that less than three decades ago, “President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill sponsored by then-Representative Chuck Schumer” which had the title “the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” A quarter of a century ago, the same president signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage between one man and one woman.
But seven years ago, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision ruling that every state must recognize same-sex marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act was promoted to codify that judicial decision, but it does more than that. My recent Point of View booklet on a Biblical Point of View on Same Sex Marriage reminds you why traditional marriage is important.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by law as valid. The one group that does still oppose legalized same-sex marriage are weekly churchgoers. But this is hardly just an opinion held by a few diehard evangelicals who resist societal change.
The chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty warned, “The bill will be a new arrow in the quiver of those who wish to deny religious organizations’ liberty to freely exercise their religious duties, strip them of their tax exemptions, or exclude them from full participation in the public arena.” The managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values declared that the Respect for Marriage Act is the federal government “explicitly declaring the Bible is wrong.”
Why did dozens of members of Congress change their vote from supporting traditional marriage to supporting same-sex marriage? We didn’t learn anything new about marriage and family. Public opinion shifted, so they abandoned their moral principles.