“The Catholic University of America is committed to upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church, which includes the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the university said in a Tuesday statement to The Daily Signal.
“Regarding this specific legislation,” the university continued, “the University stands alongside the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their statements from July 2022 and most recently, Nov. 17.”
In the Nov. 17 statement, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, highlighted that senators who promote the Respect for Marriage Act claim their amended bill respects religious liberty.
“But the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient,” he warned.
“The bill is a bad deal for the many courageous Americans of faith and no faith who continue to believe and uphold the truth about marriage in the public square today,” he said. “The Act does not strike a balance that appropriately respects our nation’s commitment to the fundamental right of religious liberty.”
“Senators supporting the Act must reverse course and consider the consequences of passing an unnecessary law that fails to provide affirmative protections for the many Americans who hold this view of marriage as both true and foundational to the common good,” the cardinal concluded.
The university’s opposition to the legislation comes as conservatives sound the alarm that it is not too late to block or amend the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. In a letter The Daily Signal published last Saturday, Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee urged his 12 Republican colleagues who voted for the legislation to “have the courage to protect” religious freedom.
The Respect for Marriage Act, or HR 8404, “provides statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages,” repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman.
The legislation, which was passed by the House in July, also “repeals and replaces provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states with provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin,” allows “the Department of Justice to bring a civil action,” and “establishes a private right of action for violations.”
Twelve Republican lawmakers voted for advancing the Respect for Marriage Act: Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana.
Many of these lawmakers claim that the much-discussed legislation protects religious liberty. But opponents of the bill warn that it “puts a giant target on people of faith.”
Lee has repeatedly raised concerns about the contents of the Respect for Marriage Act, urging Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement on his amendment creating a strict policy that the federal government can’t discriminate on either viewpoint of marriage, whether same sex or traditional.
“I offered to support the bill if the sponsors would include my amendment to prohibit the government from removing tax-exempt status based on religious beliefs about same-sex marriage (for or against),” Lee said Wednesday. “The sponsors adamantly refused even to consider that. Why?”
Other major conservative and religious organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Religious Freedom Institute have condemned the Respect for Marriage Act. Religious leaders previously warned The Daily Signal that it would hack away at the religious freedom of faith-based groups.
“Catholic institutions will have a tough time living our faith under this legislation,” Stephen Minnis, president of the Catholic Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, told The Daily Signal.
“In fact,” he said, “giving religious institutions a tough time seems to be the point of the legislation. But the U.S. Constitution guarantees free exercise of religion, not just expression of religion. Benedictine College is committed to those rights, following the U.S. bishops, who joined an amici brief to defend our position this summer.”