A Republican senator who voted for the so-called Respect for Marriage Act supports Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s and Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford’s amendments to the legislation, The Daily Signal has learned.

Republican Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is working hard to ensure that the necessary votes are attained to include the amendments, which aimed at protecting the religious liberties of Americans, a person familiar with the situation told The Daily Signal.

Sullivan spokesman Mike Reynard confirmed to The Daily Signal on Friday afternoon that the senator does indeed support both Lankford’s and Lee’s amendments: “Senator Sullivan supports both the Lee and Lankford amendments and has been working hard to ensure that these amendments get votes on the Senate floor.”

In a letter sent last week directed at the 12 GOP senators who voted for the legislation, Lee emphasized that his amendment would “ensure that federal bureaucrats do not take discriminatory actions against individuals, organizations, nonprofits, 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, benefits, etc.”

“It would affirm that individuals still have the right to act according to their faith and deepest convictions even outside of their church or home,” the senator added, urging the senators to oppose cloture on the bill unless his amendment is added.

The 12 Republican lawmakers who voted for advancing the Respect for Marriage Act are Sens. Sullivan, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Shelley Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana. 

None of the other 11 senators responded to requests for comment from The Daily Signal on Friday.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) speaks during a press conference following a Senate Republican luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on September 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Many of these lawmakers claim that the much-discussed legislation protects religious liberty. But opponents of the bill warn that it “puts a giant target on people of faith.”

“The free exercise of religion is absolutely essential to the health of our Republic,” Lee wrote in his letter, which was signed by 20 of his Republican colleagues and first published by The Daily Signal. “We must have the courage to protect it.”

Major conservative and religious organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Religious Freedom Institute have condemned the Respect for Marriage Act. Religious leaders previously warned The Daily Signal that it would hack away at the religious freedom of faith-based groups.

The Catholic University of America said Tuesday that it is aligned with top United States Catholic clergy in opposing the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.

“The Catholic University of America is committed to upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church, which includes the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the university said in a Tuesday statement to The Daily Signal.

“Regarding this specific legislation,” the university continued, “the University stands alongside the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their statements from July 2022 and most recently, Nov. 17.”

This post has been updated to include a response from Senator Sullivan’s office.

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