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Voters in Five States Oppose ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ 

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Voters in five key states oppose the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act” (RFMA) due to religious liberty concerns, according to poll conducted by OnMessage Inc. for the Heritage Foundation.    

Out of 2,000 likely voters surveyed in Wyoming, Indiana, Iowa, Utah, and West Virginia, 41 percent support and 47 percent oppose the same-sex marriage bill. Republicans (70 percent) and conservatives (73 percent) also strongly oppose the legislation. The poll has a margin of error of ± 4.9 percent for each state and ± 2.19 percent for the full sample.

More than half (53 percent) said they oppose the RFMA when when told about a part of the bill that would allow for lawsuits against anyone who refuses to participate in same-sex marriages, as did 69 percent of Republicans. 

“(Fifty-two percent) oppose the bill when they learn it would punish faith-based organizations that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Opposition is 70 percent among Republicans,” according to the report. “(Fifty-one percent) are opposed when told the IRS could remove an organization’s tax-exempt status for not recognizing same-sex marriages. Opposition spikes to 70 percent among Republican voters.”

Wes Anderson, partner at OnMessage Inc., said the results show that opinions about the RFMA in these five states are “not what is being reported.” 

“Voters in these conservative states oppose the bill and this opposition only grows when more information is given. It is clear that it will take more than a naming misdirect to convince the GOP base that this bill is not a threat to their religious liberty,” Anderson said. 

The RFMA was introduced following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, due to Democrats’ unfounded concerns that the Supreme Court could use the Dobbs decision to overrule the Court’s Obergefell gay marriage decisionThe measure passed the House in July with the help of 47 Republicans, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed to postpone a vote until after the midterm elections.

Overall, the RFMA would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and would require the federal government to recognize any marriage that was “valid in the place where entered into.” The bill would additionally require every state to recognize every same-sex marriage that “is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into.”

The bill also has a “private right of action” clause, which would allow “any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (b)…[to] bring a civil action in the appropriate district court of the United States against the person who violated such a subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.” Likewise, attorneys general would be able to bring civil action against any person who violates the law.

Many of the lawmakers who support the RFMA say the legislation would protect liberty with the potential addition of a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) titled “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.” But religious liberty proponents say that amendment does nothing to shield Americans who have a traditional view of marriage from being targeted under the law.

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