The Respect for Marriage Act passed in the U.S. House – again. But this time fewer Republicans voted for it the second time.
In July all four South Florida House Republicans voted in favor of the bill, but three of those representatives, Brian Mast, María Salazar, and Mario Díaz-Balart, flipped their votes.
"My record shows that I am a long-standing advocate against discrimination of all types. I, however, cannot support any effort that undermines religious liberties by failing to provide legitimate safeguards for Faith-Based organizations that object based on their deeply-held religious beliefs,” Díaz-Balart said. "It is unfortunate that the Senate missed an opportunity to protect marriage equality while also guaranteeing religious freedom. After multiple efforts by my colleagues to offer amendments, Senate Democrats rejected each amendment and doubled down on a bill that fails to uphold the religious liberties which are sacred to our nation."
In the Senate 12 Republicans voted for the legislation. Senate Republicans had refused to advance the House’s version that passed in July. Instead they continued to negotiate to craft a version some Republicans could vote for. Some of those Republicans hail from very conservative parts of the nation including West Virginia and Wyoming.
According to the Catholic News Agency: “The final version of the bill includes a bipartisan amendment meant to ensure that nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide services, facilities, or goods for the celebration of same-sex marriage. It also provides for individual conscience protections to the extent provided under the Constitution and federal law, and makes clear the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize a polygamous marriage.”
The legislation passed in a 258-169-1 vote with all Democrats and 39 Republicans voting in favor. In July it passed 267–157.
“I am disappointed to see the final House version of the Respect for Marriage Act did not include full protections for churches and Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs. I voted for the first version of the bill because I believe in human dignity and respect for all individuals,” Salazar was quoted as saying in Politico. “However, we cannot pass laws that advance one interest and bypass long-held legal protections for others.”
According to Politico Tommy Garcia with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blessed the Miami-area Representative.
“María Elvira Salazar’s vote change shows Floridians that she is willing to say and do anything to get elected,” Garcia said. “Salazar’s shameless vote against the Respect for Marriage Act sends a clear message that she doesn’t believe people’s right to marry whomever they love should be protected.”
Miami-area Rep. Carlos Gimenez along with two other Florida Republicans in the House Kat Cammack and Michael Waltz all still voted in favor.
Florida’s two Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio also voted against the legislation.
The legislation also protects interracial marriage. The legislation does not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, it does require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage. President Joe Biden plans to sign the legislation into law on Dec. 13.