In July, the House of Representatives — including 47 Republicans — voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill that would remove the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act from US law books. That decades-old legislation prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allowed states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The Senate version of the bill has support from a number of GOP senators, including Maine’s Susan Collins. However, on a recent episode of his podcast, Mr Cruz said he won’t be among them. He cited the lack of religious liberty protections in the bill as a reason to withhold support.
“This bill without a religious liberty protection would have massive consequences across our country, weaponizing the Biden administration to go and target universities, K-12 schools, social service organizations, churches and strip them all of their tax-exempt status,” he said during Tuesday’s episode of Verdict with Ted Cruz.
In a Washington Post op-ed published on Monday, Ms Collins and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (a Democrat and the first openly gay member of the upper chamber) said the Respect for Marriage Act “has been misunderstood, leading to false assertions and mischaracterizations of its scope”.
They said the bill, which is fewer than 500 words in length, “leaves intact religious liberties and protections afforded to individuals and organizations under federal law”.
“We recognize that some might need more clarity on this point, and that is why we have worked together with our Senate colleagues to develop clarifying language to the legislation that makes it clear what the Respect for Marriage Act would not do — it will not take away or alter any religious liberty or conscience protections,” they wrote.
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