Editorial: Legislation protects religious groups, same-sex couples

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

Kudos to U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., for his vote this week to ensure that same-sex marriage is enshrined in federal law and not left to the whim of the courts.

Frankly, same-sex marriage doesn’t seem like the kind of thing we need to be talking about seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize the unions.

After all, more than 60% of Americans in a new Pew Research poll said that same-sex marriage is good for society.

Still, questions about marriage equality are in the news again following the Supreme Court’s decision this year to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has had LGBTQ people—and many others—concerned the high court could do an about-face on same-sex marriage, as well.

Justice Clarence Thomas stoked those fears in his concurring opinion in the abortion case, writing that the Supreme Court could revisit cases about marriage, contraception and other issues.

That’s why we were pleased to see Congress take up legislation that aims to secure marriage rights for those in same-sex relationships. On Tuesday, the Senate approved the bill 61-36, including support from 12 Republicans. Young was one of them. Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican who is planning to run for governor, voted no.

Young explained his reasons for his vote in an op-ed column posted at IndyStar.com, and we appreciate his thoughtful consideration of the legislation as well as those who support and oppose it.

Notably, Young argues the legislation balances the views of those who believe marriage “was created by God as a sacred union between one man and one woman” and those same-sex couples who want “to enjoy the same legal protections of civil marriage as married men and women.”

The legislation, he said, “will bring the United States government closer to treating both groups with dignity and respect than we ever have in our history.”

The legislation would not force any state to allow same-sex couples to marry. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed and protect current same-sex unions if the Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the AP reports.

But the bill also explicitly says that religious organizations will not be required to provide services, goods, privileges or otherwise to same-sex couples. It also says that the law can’t be construed “to 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 think Christians should not be fearful of this legislation,” Young wrote. “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.”

We agree with Young’s reasoning, as well his vote for the legislation. We urge the U.S. House and President Biden to move the bill into law.•

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