December 2, 2022

Young Op-Ed: Marriage Bill Ensures Dignity and Respect for All Hoosiers

In the debate over how the federal government views civil marriage, all Hoosiers want to be treated with dignity and respect. 

Those who believe marriage was created by God as a sacred union between one man and one woman which includes many people of faith want to be treated with dignity and respect. They want to be able to worship and teach the tenets of their faith without fear of reprisal. They don’t want to be called bigots, live in fear of being ostracized or suffer endless lawsuits because of their beliefs. 

Same-sex couples many of whom are also people of faith want to be treated with dignity and respect as well. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to legalize same-sex marriages, they want to enjoy the same legal protections of civil marriage as married men and women. They don’t want to live in fear of their families being ripped apart by a future court decision.

Yesterday, the Senate debated on an improved version of the Respect for Marriage Act, and I voted for it, because it will bring the United States government closer to treating both groups with dignity and respect than we ever have in our history. 

Some people in my own party though, notably, I’ve also received quite a bit of encouragement have let me know they are disappointed in my decision. I would never try to persuade people to change the teachings of their faith, but I can explain why I think Christians should not be fearful of this legislation. In fact, the explicit protections in this proposal offer far more in the way of religious liberty protections than currently under Obergefell, which leaves all such decisions up to the courts. I was instrumental in securing a vote on and will support an amendment offered by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, so that Congress will have a chance to add additional protections for people of faith. 

One concern I’ve heard from people of faith is that they worry their churches, schools, adoption agencies and faith-based organizations will be subject to lawsuits if they refuse services to same-sex couples. The text of the bill plainly states they will not. 

According to the legislative text, religious organizations “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” The text also states that “nothing in this act, or any amendment made by this act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or federal law.”

I’ve also heard from Hoosiers who are concerned their faith-based organization might lose its tax-exempt status. The bill text is clear: “Nothing in this Act … shall be construed to deny or alter … tax-exempt status, tax treatment, educational funding” or a lengthy list of other benefits, such as accreditations for religious schools.

Christians also may worry that any change in our civil marriage laws will be used as a weapon by progressives to bludgeon them for their beliefs, but this legislation takes what may be an unprecedented step of affirming the sincerely held beliefs of religious Americans. 

“Diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises,” the amended bill’s introduction says. “Therefore, Congress affirms that such people and their diverse beliefs are due proper respect.”

These religious liberty protections are born of the First Amendment, and legal experts from across the faith spectrum have stated that activist judges will not be able to undo them. 

If I had any doubt about this, I would be voting no. 

Dignity and respect are not a zero-sum proposition. We can and should strive to ensure all citizens enjoy them in equal measure.

The Respect for Marriage Act moves us closer to that ideal.

Sen. Todd Young currently serves on the U.S. Senate Committees on Finance; Foreign Relations; Commerce, Science & Transportation; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.