The US Senate today (Wednesday) advanced HR8404, or “Pathway to Polygamy” bill which federally recognizes same sex marriage and also state-sanctioned polygamous marriages allowing one person to be married to multiple partners. The legislation also fails to protect religious freedoms of churches, tax-exempt entities and businesses.
“This bill redefines marriage between one man and one woman to include same-sex couples, requires federal recognition of some polygamous marriages, and puts freedoms of religious entities at grave risk,” said NC Values Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald. “Voters are tired of sending elected representatives to Washington who betray their values. We need true leaders who stand for truth and their constituents’ values; instead, Senators Tillis and Burr are charting a collision course with their base voters.”
The original version passed by the US House in July, was denounced by the NC Values Coalition and national groups in a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate advanced an altered version. However, changes to the bill do not address the underlying problems of threats to marriage and religious freedom, and crafty adjustments were made to mask significant consequences. For instance, the substitute bill still allows traditional polygamous relationships where one person is married individually to multiple people.
This bill acknowledges it may possibly infringe on religious/conscience beliefs but only states that those who had their rights infringed may still invoke existing legal protections, such as the First Amendment or Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Simply put, the bill puts religious freedom in jeopardy, but the solution is to apply existing law in hopes the plaintiff is not subject to a liberal, activist judge.
“Senators Tillis’ and Burr’s votes are an assault on religious freedom, because the bill puts faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, businesses, non-profits and churches all in the line of fire for litigation. Instead of standing up for the religious freedoms of North Carolinians, they chose the side of activists and political expediency. Senator Tillis actually led efforts to secure votes for this legislation, and voters will remember this during his next election,” said Fitzgerald.