Conservative leaders are urging Americans to contact their senators before the proposed “Respect for Marriage Act” is put to a final vote in the US Senate which could be as early as later today (Monday, November 28).
If it passes both houses of Congress and President Biden signs off on it which appears likely, the bill will provide federal protections for same sex marriages.
After Republican lawmakers in both houses voted to support the progress of the bill, Christian organisations are concerned that same sex civil marriages will be codified into US law.
That would have been unlikely to happen once the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January.
Supporters of the bill argue non-profit religious organisations will not be required to provide good or services for same sex couples.
But that won’t apply to devout Christians working in secular businesses such as florists, bakers and web designers.
It will be illegal for them to refuse to supply services that are contrary to their beliefs and their businesses could be penalised if they do so.
Critics say the bill will put a giant target on people of faith.
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon said “We need prayer, and we need a miracle.”
Senator Mike Lee is fighting to add an amendment that includes specific religious freedom protections.
He says it would “ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organisations, non-profits and other entities based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage by prohibiting the denial or revocation of tax-exempt status, licenses, contracts or benefits.”
He added that the amendment “would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest conviction even outside of the church or home.”
Congressman Scott Perry is urging his fellow Republicans in the House to vote against the measure, saying he regrets supporting the bill’s progress through Congress.
He says anything less than the Mike Lee amendment is going to be unacceptable.
The bill has gained momentum since US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas indicated that the court should reconsider its 2015 decision that legalised same sex marriage nationwide.