Religious organizations, including orphanages, women’s shelters, and schools, would likely be subject to crippling lawsuits if the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) becomes law.
At issue is the creation of a private right action for “any person who is harmed” by any entity operating “under color of state law” that does not recognize a marriage recognized by the state in which it took place. The intentionally vague phrasing makes the provision ripe for abuse. To protect faith-based organizations, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) filed an amendment to strike the private right of action.
“This bill does not protect religious liberty. Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.” – Senator Rubio
Although the bill would protect nonprofits whose “principal purpose” is the “study, practice, or advancement of religion,” it would not protect other faith-based organizations. As a result, an orphanage run by nuns who do not want to place children with same-sex couples could be sued in federal court by any individual. The same is true for other faith-based entities acting “under color of state law,” another intentionally vague and ambiguous term.
Looking forward … Rubio filed an amendment to strike the private right of action from the RFMA and will use every procedural tool available to force senators to go on the record.