Conservative leaders are calling on senators to reject the House-passed Respect for Marriage Act, which aims to codify into federal law the Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. 

“The Act, which was suddenly rushed through the House without any public hearings or input, is an attack on millions of Americans, particularly people of faith, who believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” wrote more than 80 conservative leaders, along with the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, in a letter Tuesday to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The letter writers believe the bill would threaten the religious freedom rights of individuals and groups across the nation if it becomes law.

While the bill “does nothing to change the status of, or benefits afforded to, same-sex marriage in light of Obergefell, it does much to endanger people of faith,” they wrote.

The signers include Michael Farris, president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom; Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation; Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; Craig DeRoche, president and CEO of the Family Policy Alliance; and Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The authors of the letter noted that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito correctly predicted the Obergefell ruling would “be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” as the justice wrote in his dissent to the 2015 case.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the conservative activists argued, could “require federal recognition of any definition of marriage without any parameters whatsoever.” They also fear that the bill, should it pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president, would encourage left-wing activist groups to sue individuals and organizations who do not conform to HR 8404’s definition of marriage.  

The Conservative Action Project, in a separate statement released Tuesday urging senators to oppose the Respect for Marriage Act, cited previous lawsuits.

It pointed to the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was sued by Washington state after she declined to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. Alliance Defending Freedom petitioned the Supreme Court to take up her case in 2017. Four years later Stutzman settled her case and went into retirement after the high court declined her appeal on two occasions.

The authors of the Conservative Action Project statement also cited the cases of bakers Jack Phillips and Aaron and Melissa Klein, in Colorado and Oregon, respectively, who were sued for refusing to design cakes for same-sex weddings. 

The statement authors fear those cases are only the beginning, writing: “The Court’s decision in Obergefell unleashed religious freedom violations across the land, launching a new era of harassment and coercion of millions of Americans who hold a sincere religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is, or ought to be, between one man and one woman.”

The Conservative Action Project’s statement garnered signatures of more than 80 conservative leaders, many of whom also signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell. The signers include Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; the Family Research Council’s Perkins; and Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project. 

According to the statement, the Respect for Marriage Act would not only “increase the threat of legal liability for those who decline to affirm same-sex marriage, but it would help cement a ‘national public policy’ on same-sex marriage that would have drastic consequences.”

Commenting on the coalition letter to McConnell, Farris remarked:

Despite claims from its sponsors, the so-called ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ doesn’t simply codify the Obergefell decision. It forces the federal government to recognize without limit any marriage definitions that a state adopts.

It also empowers the government to punish millions of Americans who hold decent and honorable beliefs about marriage—beliefs that have existed since time immemorial—exposing citizens to predatory lawsuits and even endangering the nonprofit status of faith-based organizations.

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The following is a full list of those who signed the Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to McConnell: 

Michael P. Farris
president and CEO, Alliance Defending Freedom

Ryan T. Anderson
president, Ethics & Public Policy Center

Craig DeRoche
president and CEO, Family Policy Alliance

Franklin Graham
president and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

John Stonestreet
president, Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Kelly Shackelford
president, CEO and chief counsel, First Liberty Institute

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld
president, Coalition for Jewish Values

Kevin Roberts
president, The Heritage Foundation

Tony Perkins
president, Family Research Council

Jim Daly
president, Focus on the Family

Penny Nance
CEO and president, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
president, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

David Nammo
executive director, Christian Legal Society

Mat Staver
founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel

Terry Schilling
president, American Principles Project

Jeff Myers
president, Summit Ministries

Thomas Farr
president, Religious Freedom Institute

Steven W. Fitschen
president, National Legal Foundation

John W. White III
president, Lifeshape Inc.

Katy Faust
founder and director, Them Before Us

Larry Taylor
president, Association of Christian Schools International

Mike Rouse
president, American Association of Christian Schools

Jim Minnery
president, Alaska Family Action

Jerry Cox
president, Arkansas Family Council

Brian Burch
president, CatholicVote

Shannon Royce
president, Christian Employers Alliance

Paul S. Teller
executive director, Advancing American Freedom

Ed Corrigan
president and CEO, Conservative Partnership Institute

Mike Sharrow
CEO, C12 Group

David S. Dockery
president, International Alliance for Christian Education

Philip E. Dearborn
president, Association for Biblical Higher Education

Cathi Herrod
president, Center for Arizona Policy

Jonathan Keller
president and CEO, California Family Council

Peter Wolfgang
executive director, Family Institute of Connecticut

Nicole Theis
president, Delaware Family Policy Council

John Stemberger
president, Florida Family Policy Council

Cole Muzio
president, Frontline Policy Action of Georgia

Eva Andrade
president and CEO, Hawaii Family Forum

Jim Hochberg
president, Hawaii Family Advocates

Bob Vander Plaats
president and CEO, the Family Leader

Blaine Conzatti
president, Idaho Family Policy Center

David E. Smith,
executive director, Illinois Family Institute

Ryan McCann
executive director, Indiana Family Institute

Jeff Bennett
executive director, Kansas Family Voice

David Walls
executive director, the Family Foundation

Gene Mills
president, Louisiana Family Forum

Andrew Beckwith
president and general counsel, Massachusetts Family Institute

Carroll Conley
executive director, Christian Civic League of Maine

Jeff Hewson
executive director, Michigan Family Forum

John Helmberger
chief executive officer, Minnesota Family Council

Jameson Taylor
president, Center for Political Renewal

Jannique Stewart
executive director, Missouri Family Foundation

Jeff Laszloffy
president, Montana Family Foundation

John L. Rustin
president, North Carolina Family Policy Council

Tami L. Fitzgerald
executive director, North Carolina Values Coalition

Karen Bowling
executive director, Nebraska Family Alliance

Karen England
president, Nevada Family Alliance Capitol Resource Institute

Shannon McGinley
executive director, Cornerstone Action of New Hampshire

Len Deo
founder, Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey

Jodi Hendricks
executive director, New Mexico Family Action Movement

Jason J. McGuire
executive director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms

Aaron Baer
president, Center for Christian Virtue

Michael Geer
president, Pennsylvania Family Council

Dave Aucoin
executive director, Rhode Island Family Advocate

Dave Wilson
president and executive director, Palmetto Family Council

Norman Woods
executive director, Family Heritage Alliance

David Fowler
president, Family Action Council of Tennessee

Jonathan Saenz
president, Texas Values

Victoria Cobb
president, Family Foundation of Virginia

James A. Davids
chief counsel, Founding Freedoms Law Center

Caiden Cowger
president, Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Julaine K. Appling
president, Wisconsin Family Action

Nathan Winters
executive director, Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming

Robert M. Myers
president, Toccoa Falls College

Donald Sweeting
president, Colorado Christian University

Jeff Hunt
director, Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University

Kent J. Ingle
president, Southeastern University

Ben Merkle
president, New Saint Andrews College

Troy A. Shoemaker
president, Pensacola Christian College

Barbara C. McMillin
president, Blue Mountain College

Jason K. Allen
president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College

Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver
president, Union University

Glenn C. Arbery
president, Wyoming Catholic College