Congress recently enacted the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) and it has two primary purposes.
It requires the federal government to recognize
a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.
It guarantees that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity,
or national origin, but the bill would not require
a state to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.
These two purposes will have little, if any, effect on churches.
This conclusion is underscored by a bipartisan amendment to the RMA that:
- Confirms that churches will not be required to provide any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.
- Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and prevents the Act from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.
- Guarantees that the Act may not be used to deny or alter any benefit, right, or status of an otherwise eligible person or entity – including tax-exempt status, tax treatment, grants, contracts, agreements, guarantees, educational funding, loans, scholarships, licenses, certifications, accreditations, claims, or defenses – provided that the benefit, right, or status does not arise from a marriage. For instance, a church’s eligibility for tax-exempt status is unrelated to marriage, so its status would not be affected by this law.