Image Credit: Marsha Blackburn / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty voted against the Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday, saying that the current version does not provide protection of religious liberty for Tennessee residents.
Although the bill, which would federally codify same-sex and interracial marriages, passed with a bipartisan vote of 61-36, Tennessee’s congressional leaders and influential religious leaders across the state argue that it sets up a major threat to religious freedoms.
If passed, the bill would repeal a federal law that establishes marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Blackburn joined with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission – the Nashville-based lobbying group affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention – to speak out in favor of increased protection for religious organizations that have traditional beliefs regarding marriage.
ERLC President Brent Leatherwood spoke out after Tuesday’s vote, stating that the legislation “raises legitimate concerns for people of faith.”
“While new challenges may arise because of this, the task before believers remains the same: Articulate and embody a Christian vision for a culture awash in confusion about marriage,” Leatherwood said.
Hagerty argued that the Supreme Court had “already ordered what this bill seeks to accomplish.”
“Rather, it provides new avenues to exploit for litigation and government enforcement actions against Americans for genuinely-held religious beliefs in the traditional definition of marriage,” Hagerty stated.
Before the Senate voted, Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Marco Rubio of Florida each proposed an amendment that would provide greater protection for religious institutions. However, none of the three amendments passed.
Blackburn did cosign the letter from Mike Lee which would have protected religious organizations from “legal harassment or retaliation from the federal government for holding sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
The bill is now headed back to the House for final approval and will then be sent to President Biden.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com