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The Triumph of Respecting Marriage and Religious Liberty

 The Senate's recent vote to close debate on the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) marks a significant step towards repealing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA, which prevented federal recognition and benefits for married gay couples, was adopted with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It reflected the views of the majority of Americans at the time, but times have since changed.


Today, the Senate's decision to advance the RMA signals a shift in public opinion and political priorities. The RMA seeks to repeal DOMA and require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Notably, it preserves the protection of individual religious freedom under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which is a significant departure from the Equality Act, another LGBTQ-rights legislation that excludes RFRA's religious protections.


A bipartisan group of Senators, led by Tammy Baldwin and Susan Collins, has worked to address concerns from religious organizations that the RMA might force them to provide services and goods to married gay couples. The legislation now includes additional language to reassure churches and religious charitable organizations that they won't lose their tax-exempt status due to the new law. While it was unlikely that the RMA would have such effects, addressing these concerns was considered necessary to build trust and support for the bill.


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