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House passes same-sex marriage bill in final vote, sending it to Biden’s desk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, following the final vote on the Respect for Marriage Act in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2022. | Credit: PBS NewsHour screenshot via YouTube

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 8, 2022 / 09:45 am (CNA).

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-169 to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) on Thursday, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

A total of 219 Democrats, along with 39 Republicans, voted “yea” to the bill. One hundred sixty-nine Republicans voted against it. One Republican voted “present” — neither yes or no — and four Republicans were recorded as not voting.

The bill, which would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and recognize same-sex marriages on a federal level, has drawn criticism from Catholic leaders for not providing strong enough protections for those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman — a belief in line with Church teaching.

Minutes before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, called the act a “historic step forward in Democrats’ fight to defend the dignity and equality of every American.”

“Today we stand up for the values the vast majority of Americans hold dear, a belief in the dignity, beauty, and divinity — divinity, a spark of divinity in every person — and abiding respect for love so powerful that it binds two people together,” the Democrat from California said.

The final vote comes after the U.S. Senate, with the support of 12 Republicans, voted to pass the RFMA on Nov. 29. If it passes now, Biden, also a Catholic, has pledged to sign it into law.

While it would not require any state to allow same-sex couples to marry, the RFMA would require states to recognize any and all marriages — regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin” — performed in other states.

The U.S. bishops stated in a November letter to Congress that the bill’s amendments do not sufficiently protect those with religious objections.

“The amended act will put the ministries of the Catholic Church, people of faith, and other Americans who uphold a traditional meaning of marriage at greater risk of government discrimination,” the letter stated.

“Our opposition to RMA by no means condones any hostility toward anyone who experiences same-sex attraction,” the bishops emphasized. “Catholic teaching on marriage is inseparable from Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. To attack one is to attack the other. Congress must have the courage to defend both.”

A United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ explanation appended to the letter read: “Given all this — that the bill establishes an affirmative, enforceable, comprehensive right to federal and interstate recognition of same-sex marriages but sets out religious liberty protections that are far from comprehensive, and are neither affirmative nor enforceable outside of the limited protections in Section 6(b) — it is fair to say that the amendment treats religious liberty as a second-class right.”

Democrats blocked an amendment Monday offered by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas that would have included explicit protections for Americans who believe marriage is between one man and one woman. The same amendment, which has the support of the bishops, was previously introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

The RFMA represents one of the first legislative responses to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June. While the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization said that “this decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Democrats have pointed to Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion suggesting the court should reconsider all “substantive due process” cases, including the 2015 Obergefell decision on same-sex marriage.

DOMA, which the bill would repeal, is a 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage federally as the union of a man and a woman, reserved federal benefits to heterosexual couples, and permitted states not to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. DOMA was already effectively nullified by the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court decisions United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

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  1. Former Catholic doing what she does best: using her elected office in government to destroy all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches. I suspect that Nancy studied at the feet of William Tecumseh Sherman. Good work, Nancy.

    • Sherman did not destroy all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches. Sadly, although he was baptized and raised by an adoptive family that was strongly Catholic, after some years he did not practice the Faith and disagreed with the Church. But his wife was extremely devout and active and the children were all sent to Catholic schools. One of his sons became a priest, though that caused Sherman some bitterness, bit he never sought to destroy the Church’s beliefs or teachings.

      Kindly don’t insult him by comparing Pelosi to him.

      • Yes. He was instrumental in defeating the Confederacy and ending the Civil War after all. That’s kind of a big deal. His biographies are interesting reading.

        • What I always find interesting is the contemporary southerner women shrieking, “He’s a beast and a monster!” and yet you see story after story about how they mouthed off to him, and lived to tell the tale. Some monster.

          Yes, I agree about his biographies. They are very interesting.

          There is a charming story about his meeting 4-year-old Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah at the end of the war; her father was a captain in the Confederate army, and her mother’s brothers were serving in the US Army. Sherman was a friend of one of them and went to see Mrs. Gordon to give her messages from her family. Juliette and her sister had been curious about seeing “Old Sherman” in the march through Savannah the previous day, and their mother told Sherman so, while the little girls each protested that it was the other who had called him that. Sherman laughed, and then talked to and entertained the little girls for hours.

          And before the war Sherman was in charge of what later became Louisiana State University. In one battle one of his former staff members was captured, and Sherman introduced him to someone as “This is (whatever the name was); he thinks he’s a Confederate officer but he’s really my professor of ancient languages.”

      • General Sherman may not have destroyed all things Catholic but he sure left a path of misery and destruction behind him.
        I think his son who became a Catholic priest is buried in Grand Coteau, Louisiana next to a close relative of the Confederate Vice President.

  2. We read: “Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, called the act a ‘historic step forward in Democrats’ fight to defend the dignity and equality of every American.’”

    Nice touch, that. This “historic” step in the most recent microseconds of human history! For talking heads, the notion now that some states can impose their rites (vs “rights”?) on other states, and even on the real rights of individual citizens (“equality of every American”) of other states? Constitution, what Constitution?

    Wondering here if Her Majesty has witlessly teed up the ball (so to speak) for the inevitable Constitutional court case? Recalling not only Justice Thomas, but also Chief Justice Roberts in his earlier dissent to Obergefell v Hodges (2015): “Do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

    We might as well notice, too, whether the issue is no longer fenced-in to the redefinition of “marriage”? (And, such an insult to all members of the human race by insinuating an equivalence to interracial marriage!)

    So. . .Is the real issue now about the redefinition of the nation-state, itself? The “state” now mutated into a lapdog in the Pavlovian hands of an unnatural mindset in all of its slippery-slope mutations? Does the redefined state now exist simply to salivate over and ratify a full range of possible redefinitions (“fatwas”?): gay marriage, but also polygamy, and then polyamorous block parties, and eventually even beastiality?

    Pelosi’s open-ended redefinition of marriage, butt now especially the “state”: the tail wagging the dog?

    • It’s a very sad state of affairs where this has gone and of course Biden will sign since he’s a Catholic in name only, like Pelosi. But don’t worry, God is not mocked and what’s coming to America will show that you do not mess with God and His commandments !

  3. I’m sure Biden will not sign since he is a devout Catholic….it would go against everything he has been taught since his youth and am sure he sought the advice and counsel of the Pope.

    • At the very least, Biden is at this moment consulting with his bishop (Washington or Wilmington????) about what a FAITHFUL Catholic ought to do. I’m certain that his episcopal advisor will show him the moral high road to take. We are all in good hands when we first consult our bishops when faced with weighty moral issues.

    • Didn’t his mother threaten/tell off a nun because of something that happened at his school, or do I have that story mixed up?

      He always talked about taking Trump out behind the school gymnasium.

  4. Pelosi conflated this bill with the decision in Dobbs, as if the two were related. Oh, wait, they are related. Both cases promote immorality. Once again, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger comes to mind. Later voted Pope Benedict XVI, he stated, “Truth is not determined by a majority vote.” No matter how many people think something is right, it doesn’t make it so.

  5. If the hierarchy had gone all-in on the promotion of NFP, especially in their hospitals systems, then they might not be where they find themselves.

      • It depends on how you define “birth control.” NFP is not contraception, unless you want to consider abstaining from sex contraception.
        Observing a women’s fertility signs and then making a decision about whether to engage in, or not engage in, procreative activity does not offend the Church’s (God’s) prohibition on contraception

  6. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman – yesterday today tomorrow – forever, and the nonsense which the ‘catholics’ and their pals in the house and senate insist in indulging in will NOT change that.

    The ‘respect for marriage act’ – what a mockery.

  7. “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who would kill the body for they cannot kill the soul. Instead fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and body in Hell.” The fact that Americans no longer fear the Lord will lead to the destruction of this nation from within and without in one years time.

  8. Some years ago as Vice President Biden performed a gay”wedding” ceremony – with scarcely any response by the bishops. For decades, politicians have trumpeted their Catholic identity while vigorously promoting abortion and same sex marriage. Few have faced any consequences from the Church. They continue to receive Communion and are virtually immune to any correction from the Church. The Archbishop of Washington is notably reluctant to uphold Church teaching in these areas.
    And when Pelosi, Biden, et. al. die,they can expect an elaborate Catholic funeral as Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, etc. received.
    I cannot help wondering if our bishops simply prefer peace, unity (and perhaps popularity) to the truth. Or, do they not believe the teaching of the Church themselves?

    • Looking everyday that the “Catholic Church” may not be the true church it claims to be. A modern day synagogue of satan as Jesus would say.

  9. If the Catholic Bishops would only become politically vocal on the moral issues of the day instead of cowardly shying from the public square this country could be turned around in short order. I blame the Catholic Bishops, not Catholic politicians ignorant of the Faith, for the passage of this same sex marriage bill.

    • I can clearly see the legal problems with the ‘Respect for marriage’ law. Let us take a look at the pregnant 41 year old school teacher having sex with her 15 year old student. Even in jail for doing so, she now would have a right to marry her 15 year old lover, “to put the family back together”. The ‘wolf in sheeps clothing’ Progressive, Liberal, Socialist, Marxist Democrats next step is to help her fight ‘unconstitutional’, ‘age discrimination’, Federal laws which stand in the way of her ‘right’ to marry the one she loves.

      After the school teacher wins her battle for her “rights”, it will be 50 year old male man-boy-lovers wanting to marry their 5 year old lovers.

      Florida teacher charged with having sex with student, 15, is now pregnant

  10. The Church is the moral compass for Catholics—not the Federal government. The Church defines marriage for Catholics—-not the Federal government. Whatever happens in Washington DC never changes the teachings of the Church. Church leaders do not make policy in the Federal government and politicians do not make policy for the Church. Anyone who thinks the Church and the Federal government are equals are creating a golden calf. Catholics only pledge allegiance to God and nobody else. The Federal government should be ignored because it never dictates how Catholics are to live their lives.

  11. What will matter in the end is the question as to whether or not our church leaders have a spine. Or will they all simply cave in, in a heap as they did when it was demanded they close our churches for covid? ( Note: I am almost 70, have experienced covid twice. Clearly, I am not dead!) My point being, the feds can pass any law they want, fine you however much they want. In the end, they cannot FORCE you to do anything against your will. Unless you fear their penalties more than God. Pick your side. The disgusting and poisonous DEMs, or God. It really is that simple. If we lose our tax status, so what? A smaller church might be a better, more devout one. Close the catholic hospitals and schools if we must and see how easily the govt fills in the gap. If they can. What to do if we are sued in an effort to force the hiring of sexually inappropriate folks to become Catholic school teachers and church employees?? Say no. If indeed they shut us down, what can be done? Well, I think if I write a weekly invitation to my priest to celebrate Mass in my PRIVATE home ( as in the days of the old church in Rome)I will invite my friends too, and nobody else. What can they do about that? Nothing. End of story. There are ways to accomplish anything. All it takes is a spine and a will, and willingness to stand up for what you believe no matter WHAT the talking pin-heads are saying.

  12. I don’t mean to be “digging at” the Holy Father. The Holy Father did say to legalize homosexual “civil union” and he has not retracted it. He hasn’t even said if the video of that, that was released, was made public with or without his permission or if it is a fraud in some manner.

    What is to be made of it?

    Man does not have power to legalize unnaturalness and abominations and the Pope has neither the power as Pope nor mandate for any such thing.

  13. “Minutes before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, called the act a ‘historic step forward in Democrats’ fight to defend the dignity and equality of every American.'”

    Nancy Pelosi isn’t a Catholic. She is a heretic.

    “DOMA, which the bill would repeal, is a 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage federally as the union of a man and a woman, reserved federal benefits to heterosexual couples, and permitted states not to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. DOMA was already effectively nullified by the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court decisions United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.”

    The government (including the courts) has no power or authority to redefine marriage. Marriage is a matter of nature and was defined and instituted by God and is regulated by God and His Church – i.e. the Catholic Church.

    To be validly married not only words, but also consummation is necessary. This is a matter of divine and natural law. It should be obvious that consummation is only possible between a physically mature male and female.

    As far as I can tell, government is becoming more evil as time goes on. The rot is very deep and much of it appears to be very well hidden (e.g. not publicized) – and it is not confined to the federal government.

    The Democrats – and some Republicans – have blood on their hands. They will be held accountable before God.

    As Catholics ought to know, those guilty of unrepented mortal sin will go to Hell.

    • “Nancy Pelosi isn’t a Catholic. She is a heretic.”

      She is a baptized Catholic. By all indications, she’s a very bad Catholic who holds to heretical views about life, sexuality, the human person, etc.

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