USA: Mormon Church backs same-sex marriage law, hoping to protect religious freedom

This Tuesday, November 29, the United States Senate voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act to enshrine in Capitol marble the jurisprudence on same-sex marriage. 12 of the 49 elected Republicans gave their support to the text proposed by the Democrats, among them Senator Mitt Romney, of Mormon faith.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon Church, chose to support this law despite its positions on homosexuality. In return, she hopes to obtain the right for congregations not to celebrate same-sex marriages.

A different strategy than the American Catholic Episcopate or the Southern Baptist Convention.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the 14th Amendment guaranteed the federal right to same-sex marriage. This amendment had been passed to protect the rights newly granted to former slaves. Challenging this reading of the Constitution, Judge Clarence Thomas said this case law should be overturned. Thomas' statement, in the wake of the Dobbs ruling that there is no constitutional right to abortion, has prompted a backlash from Democrats who have filed a case before guaranteeing same-sex marriage against a possible reversal of case law.

In July, the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, had adopted a text consecrating same-sex marriage, it will have to decide on the barely modified version of the Senate.

The text caused an outcry among religious movements fearing that ministers of religion will be forced to perform marriages that do not correspond to their values, even if an amendment provides some freedom for religious groups.

The chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Religious Liberty, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, said the bipartisan amendment was not enough to preserve the balance between gay people's right to marry and religious freedom. A concern shared by the Reverend Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who sees in the future law a “threat to ministries such as Christian orphanages […] as well as to adoption services” run by religious institutions.

If these positions are not surprising, that of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clashes with its traditional position on homosexuality.

The contrarian strategy of Mormons who are opposed to same-sex marriage

The Mormon Church brought, on November 16, his support for the bill. If she declares to consider that homosexual relations violate the divine commandments, she assures to support the text as long as the rights of homosexual couples do not encroach on those of religious institutions.

"We work together to protect the principles and practices of religious freedom such as the rights of LGBTQ people," said the Church, which has 17 million followers.

The text provides that the status of religious groups nonprofit will not be affected by their refusals to offer bridal celebrations. This mention intended to attract the vote of at least 10 Republicans convinced the Mormon Church. However, three Republican amendments aimed at further guaranteeing religious freedom were rejected by the Democratic majority.

Amendments which aimed in particular to prevent the revoking of the tax status of religious organizations whose leaders refuse to celebrate same-sex marriages or to sanction schools linked to congregations.

“My amendment simply prohibits the federal government from discriminating against schools, businesses and organizations because of their religious beliefs about same-sex marriage,” said Sen. Lee, who is among 37 Republican senators who voted against. the text.

There are currently nine Mormons in the United States Congress, three senators and six representatives. They were all re-elected last November.

Jean Sarpedon

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Lucky-photographer/ The US Senate, Washington DC

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