Buncombe County – Some members of the Republican Party are not happy with US Senators Tom Tillis and outgoing Senator Richard Burr, and these GOP members want the senators censured. Why? Because of their vote on the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which passed the US House and Senate and was signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The act, according to left-leaning ABC News, “…will guarantee federal recognition of same-sex [and] interracial marriages.” The right-leaning Heritage Foundation says the “legislation puts a giant target on the backs of people of faith who rightly believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
It goes on to say, “Radical special interests are actively seeking to punish individuals and institutions with lawsuits if they act according to the proper understanding of marriage.” Both Burr and Tillis voted for the law.
Conservative lawmaker Sen. Mike Lee tried to add an amendment “that provides religious liberty protections and addresses [they called] the bill’s most glaring problems.” However, the amendment failed.
The censure effort
The WNCFreedoom2020 group bases its censure on the 2016 Republican Platform and the 2022 NC GOP Platform, affirming a marriage is between one man and one woman. A censure is an official rebuke by a legislature or party of one of its members and carries no real penalty for the person being censured.
The resolution starts by stating, “Whereas, the National Republican Party Platform states: “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, [are] the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.”
It then cites the state’s platform, going on to say, “we must support the marriage amendment as part of the North Carolina constitution and encourage all efforts to defend it,” and the senators’ rejection of “a crucial plank of the GOP platform has damaged the reputation of the Republican party and further marginalized the natural family.”
It then calls on “the various Patriot Groups of North Carolina (with a social platform in excess of over 50,000)” to join the drive to get the censure passed by the Republican Party of the state.
In an email letter to Kay Olsen with WNCFreedom2020, Senator Tillis told Olsen he “worked to secure a bipartisan compromise to protect the religious freedoms of churches and religious organizations… The legislation would provide more certainty for same-sex couples, and at the same time, it ensures that churches are not required to perform or celebrate same-sex marriages and that religious organizations do not lose their tax-exempt status for holding a more traditional view of marriage.”
Why participate in the Respect for Marriage Act negotiations?
In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held in Obergefell v. Hodges that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, SCOTUS did not address the legal impact of Obergefell on religious institutions and nonprofits, leaving that legal question open. A key reason why I worked to amend the Respect for Marriage Act was to ensure that federal law expressly acknowledges that people of good faith could disagree about marriage, and that federal law protects religious institutions and nonprofits from being forced to violate their beliefs. A bipartisan amendment I helped negotiate will ensure robust protections for churches and religious organizations—protections that are more robust and expansive than what currently exists in federal law.
He answered the question, “Does the Respect for Marriage Act open the door for the IRS to strip away tax-exempt status for churches and religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage?” Tillis said, “Absolutely not. In fact, the legislation provides new protections for religious organizations so they do not lose their tax-exempt status.”
He also responded to the question, does the Respect for Marriage Act recognize polygamous relationships? “No, this bill does not recognize polygamous relationships. As a matter of fact, the Respect for Marriage Act provides explicit language under Section 7(b) that the legislation does not recognize polygamous marriages,” he stated in the email.
Tillis said he also supported Lee’s amendment, saying, “I voted in favor of Senator Mike Lee’s amendment to the Respect for Marriage Act. Senator Lee’s amendment went beyond the scope covered by the Respect for Marriage Act to include protections for individuals, non-religious organizations, and closely held businesses.”
He went on to say, “The Lee Amendment also addressed other matters like tax-exempt status, federal grants, contracts, loan scholarships, and accreditation, which are already covered in the bipartisan amendment that I also supported.”
Still, he said, “I am confident, however, that the amendment I negotiated with my colleagues includes appropriate religious liberty protections to address legitimate concerns about the Respect for Marriage Act.”
He added, “Moving forward, I will continue to support efforts to provide greater religious protections for individuals. I strongly oppose any effort to infringe on any American’s religious freedom and First Amendment rights, which is why I negotiated with my colleagues to significantly improve this legislation.”
The Tribune tried to contact Glenda Weinert, Buncombe County GOP Party Chairwoman, about the resolution, but she had not replied as of press time.