Amendments Added To Protect Religious Freedoms In ‘Respect For Marriage’ Act

Image Credit: Senator Bill Hagerty / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

Last week, the House voted 258-169 to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. The 169 no votes all came from Republicans; all 7 Tennessee Republicans voted no. 

The bill, which repeals and replaces the 1996 Defense for Marriage Act, heads next to President Biden to be signed into law.  

An earlier version of the bill passed by the Senate did not include provisions protecting religious freedom. Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty voted against the act, saying that it did not provide protection of religious liberty for Tennessee residents. The bill passed in the Senate 61-36. Influential religious leaders across the state argued that it set up a major threat to religious freedoms.

Amendments were added to the bill that acknowledge traditional beliefs about marriage as being reasonable and deserving respect.


According to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Congress has declared, on a bipartisan basis, that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises. Therefore, Congress affirms that such people and their diverse beliefs are due proper respect.” The NAE says there is no basis in the bill that equates support for traditional marriage with racism or bigotry.

In addition, the bill acknowledges existing constitutional and statutory protections for religious freedom, while providing new protections for religious schools and nonprofits.

Before the amendments were added to the bill, it was feared that the IRS would be able to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Jon Davidson, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU says that churches will not be required to host or perform such ceremonies.


Section 6(b) of the act reads:

“Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion, and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage. Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”

The bill also cannot force religiously affiliated foster care providers and adoption centers to close or mandate how these organizations treat those in same-sex relationships.

For-profit businesses are likewise unaffected by the bill as it is focused on what the federal government and what states may and may not do.

The Respect for Marriage Act will federally recognize the marriage of any couple if they marry in a state where that marriage is legal. It will also require the state of Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages even if they are outlawed in the State. 

However the act will not force states to issue a marriage license to all couples.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at

2 thoughts on “Amendments Added To Protect Religious Freedoms In ‘Respect For Marriage’ Act

  • December 12, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    Strange, isn’t it. I can refuse to do business with a male/female applicant for any reason and nothing is said or done about it. Refuse a same sex couple and be harassed, arrested, put out of business and that’s just the start of your problems. Once, I didn’t care who you loved or married but now that you’ve decided to shove it in my face, don’t get into my space as we have nothing to say to each other that wouldn’t end up with hurt feelings.

    • December 13, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      I feel exactly as you do and am sick of being told i must accept same sex marriage.


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