On November 16, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 8404), legislation that addresses federal and state recognition of same-sex marriages and is expected to pass following the Thanksgiving congressional recess. The Respect for Marriage Act repeals and replaces previous federal provisions that defined marriage as between a man and a woman with provisions that recognize marriages valid under state law. The legislation additionally requires states to recognize marriages from other states, including same-sex and interracial marriages.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church respects the right of others to believe differently, however, its view on marriage is not based upon a secular rationale and it will continue to teach and promote its understanding of marriage, sexuality, and family. The Adventist Church has not endorsed or advocated for the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act. However, due to concerns expressed by the Adventist Church and other religious freedom advocates, the amended legislation now contains provisions that address the core religious freedom concerns raised by the bill. These include Congress acknowledging that “both traditional marriage supporters and their beliefs are decent and honorable,” protecting churches from being forced to facilitate same-sex marriages, and preventing retaliation against religious organizations for their views on marriage.
The Adventist Church greatly appreciates the congressional offices that responded to its concerns by including these religious liberty provisions. It continues to support legislative initiatives such as the Fairness for All Act (H.R. 1440), a balanced piece of legislation that provides LGBT nondiscrimination protections in areas such as secular employment, housing, and public accommodations while preserving religious freedom safeguards for people of faith and the institutions they maintain.
The North American Division will hold an informational webinar on Monday, November 21, 4:00 p.m. ET for those interested in learning more about the Respect for Marriage Act. Webinar link: https://youtu.be/OhZChDvELww.