New Law Is Coming For Religious Groups

( The US Congress has taken another step toward passing a bill codifying the federal government’s support for same-sex unions. Today, the US is governed by the right to such unions, but only because of a 2015 Supreme Court decision. Civil rights activists worry that the more conservative justices on the bench today may overturn the decision. In that case, the newly proposed law being considered by Congress would preserve some of the rights of same-sex couples but stop short of maintaining the status quo.

The Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed in 1996, would be repealed under the law. Under the so-called DOMA, states were not compelled to recognize same-sex unions that were legally consummated in another state, and the federal government recognized marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

The second clause temporarily barred same-sex spouses from receiving several government benefits, many of which had to do with taxes and Social Security payments.

However, in the 2013’s United States v. Windsor case, the Supreme Court invalidated that clause, and DOMA was declared inoperative following the Obergefell ruling. The law is still in effect, though. The proposed law would eliminate it, allow the federal government to recognize same-sex partnerships formally, and forbid individual states from contesting the legality of same-sex relationships formed in another state.

According to Gallup survey results, only 27% of Americans believed same-sex marriages should be regarded as legal when DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The percentage has progressively risen, with Gallup reporting that 71% of Americans believe same-sex unions should be permitted.

A version of the bill was comfortably approved by the House of Representatives in the middle of July on a vote of 267 to 157, with 47 Republicans joining every Democrat in support. The Senate, evenly split between the two political parties, approved an updated bill on November 30 with the help of 12 Republicans and the presence of all Democrats. The amendment’s goal was to ensure that the proposal wouldn’t weaken protections for conscience and religion. For instance, no marriage ceremony would necessitate the services of non-profit religious organizations. The amendment forbids the law from being used to refuse or change privileges unrelated to marriage, such as the tax-exempt status of a church or other nonprofit.

The modified bill will then return to the House, which is likely to pass before being sent to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.