President Joe Biden has signed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act into law, spurning warnings the act will impede religious freedom, and surrounded by LGBTQ activists, lawmakers, and drag queens.

“Today is a good day,” Biden said Tuesday as he signed the legislation. “A day America takes a vital step toward equality, for liberty and justice, not just for some, but for everyone. Toward creating a nation where decency, dignity, and love are recognized, honored, and protected.”

“We’re here today to celebrate their courage and everyone who made the day possible,” the president added. “Courage that led to progress we’ve seen over the decades, progress that gives us hope that every generation will continue on our journey toward a more perfect union.”

The move was strongly condemned by religious leaders like Catholic Vote President Brian Burch.

“Laws passed during lame-duck sessions are by definition desperate,” Burch said Tuesday. “This gross attempt to redefine marriage allows radical activists to declare war on anyone that disagrees with them.”

“President Biden’s celebratory signing of the so-called ‘Respect’ for Marriage Bill will inevitably be used to marginalize people of faith who seek to live out their beliefs in public life,” he added. “The bill lacks any tangible protections for people of faith who are already facing a hostile administration which is openly weaponizing the government against those who fail to perfectly align with its radical agenda. No law can change the truth that traditional marriage remains foundational to our society.”

The Respect for Marriage Act, or HR 8404, “provides statutory authority for same-sex and interracial marriages,” repealing provisions that define marriage as between a man and a woman.

President Joe Biden closes a binder after a signing ceremony for the Respect for Marriage Act on the South Lawn of the White House Dec. 13. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The legislation, which was passed by the House in July, also “repeals and replaces provisions that do not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states with provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin,” allows “the Department of Justice to bring a civil action,” and “establishes a private right of action for violations.”

The bill’s supporters claimed that the much-discussed legislation protects religious liberty. But opponents of the Respect for Marriage Act, including religious institutions like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, desperately warned ahead of the Senate vote that it “puts a giant target on people of faith.”

Twelve Republican senators voted for advancing the Respect for Marriage Act: Sens. 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, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Todd Young of Indiana. 

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

In a letter directed at the 12 GOP senators who voted for the legislation, Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee pushed for the senators to support his amendment (it ultimately failed). The senator 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 was added.

“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.”

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