Society & Culture

Welch backs U.S. gay marriage bill that lacks VT law’s protections for religion

Churches like Valley Bible Church in East Middlebury could lose tax-exempt status and face criminal charges if the Senate and Pres. Biden approve a national gay marriage law the U.S. House passed in July, with a ‘yes’ vote from Rep. Peter Welch.

By Guy Page

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and every other U.S. House Democrat voted July 19 for the pro-gay marriage ‘Respect For Marriage Act.’ 

The bill, HR 8404, passed the House that day and is now in the U.S. Senate. If passed by the upper chamber and signed by President Joseph Biden, it would likely override protections for religious organizations included by the 2009 Vermont Legislature in the Act Related to Civil Marriage that legalized gay marriage.

Federal law supercedes state law. The 2009 Vermont law contains two key protections: 

  1. An exemption for religious organizations: “ religious organization…. shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges” in connection with a gay marriage. 
  2. Lawsuits by individuals against religious organizations are prohibited: “Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges in accordance with this subsection shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”

By contrast, HR 8404 offers no religious exemption. And it specifically creates a “Private Right Of Action.—Any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (a) may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against the person who violated such subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.”

Welch explained his support for HR 8404 in a July 19 tweet.

“For so many of us, marrying the person we love is enriching and beautiful,” Welch said. “It’s painful to think that someone would be denied that experience because of who they love. We must pass the Respect for Marriage Act to protect same sex marriage in America.”

Faith-based activist Rev. Ed Wheeler, pastor of Valley Bible Church in East Middlebury, worries about churches’ loss of freedom if HR 8404 becomes law. 

“The plans are already being laid to use this law to strip the tax exempt status of any church, synagogue, or other institution that maintains the belief that marriage should be defined as the union of “one man and one woman,” Wheeler wrote in a letter to the editor. “The next step will be to criminalize organizations and individuals who hold this view. Thousands of years of history and fervently held convictions of millions of Americans are to be overturned by legislative tyranny. Most importantly, this is an act in defiance of Almighty God in whom some of us still trust.”

With many Americans sharing Wheeler’s sentiments, it is likely the ‘Respect for Marriage’ Act if passed would be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Categories: Society & Culture

5 replies »

  1. Vermont’s law was crafted around Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution, whereas the federal bill HR8404 ignores any current state law and the US Constitution, 1st and 10th amendments. But that is the current state of affairs in DC- to ignore the rule of law and legislate or regulate to the will of special interest and the donor class.
    This will be litigated, upon passage all the way to the Supreme Court.
    As to peter welch, I would expect nothing else- than to vote as he is instructed by his party and donors. Should he be elected to the senate, Schumer as minority or majority leader can count on this empty vessel to vote as desired.

  2. Welch’s priorities are clear. Whatever Pelosi and Schumer tell him to do.
    100% of the time, a mindless puppet for the liberal agenda.
    A few years ago Welch was asked to come to the Vermont Veterans Cemetery in Randolph for the Memorial Day event.
    He chose to go to a planned parenthood rally in Burlington.
    So instead of honoring Vermonters who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend America he chose to support those who’s purpose is to destroy the lives of the unborn.
    Vote for Gerald Malloy. A man who stands up for what he believes in.

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