The historic Respect for Marriage Act or same-sex marriage bill has passed in the House of Representatives by a vote margin of 258-169.
While the controversial bill was voted on and passed along political party lines, 39 House Republicans crossed the aisle to vote alongside their Democratic colleagues in favor of the measure.
In the original House version of the bill, Republican Florida Reps. Michael Waltz, Kat Cammack, Brian Mast, Carlos Gimenez, Maria Elvira Salazar, and Rep. Diaz-Balart, all voted in favor of the bill, but the new Senate version that came over saw a few defections.
Reps. Brian Mast, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Maria Elvira Salazar voted against the new version that was sent over from the upper chamber.
Rep. Salazar said she voted against the bill "because the Rubio amendment was not included, and the spirit of this bill does not protect, only respects."
"I am very much pro-LGBTQ community. You can do anything you want to, but at the same time, we have to protect the right of others…So it's respected, not protected," added Salazar. "The Rubio amendment made it really easy for everyone. I voted ‘yes’ the first time, but the second time we thought the Senate was going to fix it, so everyone was going to be happy, including my faith-based community."
The Rubio amendment Rep. Salazar is referring to was designed to protect “faith-based organizations.”
Rubio’s amendment was penned to address the “vague phrasing” of the bill that calls for the creation of a private right action for “any person who is harmed.”
“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,” stated Senator Rubio. “The Senate had a chance to fix this obvious problem, but it failed. Now faith-based organizations will suffer the consequences.”
Rep. Diaz-Balart was the first Republican congressional defection in the House, calling the Senate bill “unfortunate,” adding that the Senate, "missed an opportunity to protect marriage equality while also guaranteeing religious freedom."
"I, however, cannot support any effort that undermines religious liberties by failing to provide legitimate safeguards for Faith-Based organizations that object based on their deeply-held religious beliefs," stated Rep. Diaz-Balart.
Rep. Gimenez, who is usually in lock-step with his fellow Miamians, Reps. Salazar and Diaz-Balart stuck to his guns and voted for the same-sex marriage bill.
To Rep. Gimenez, the measure was a “better” version than the initial bill and offered more “protections for religious institutions.”
“It was better than the bill we voted for the first time,” said Rep. Gimenez. “It had more protections for religious institutions.”
Fellow Florida Rep. Byron Donalds has always opposed the same-sex marriage bill and believes that the is nothing more than a political ploy by Democrats.
“This bill is all politics. There is not a state in the country that is challenging same-sex marriages, so why are we doing this,” asked Rep. Donalds, before saying,” The federal government should not be in the marriage business anyway.”
Rep. Donald doesn’t feel that states “should be in the marriage business,” and is asserting that marriage licenses are actually in place to prevent interracial marriages.
“Marriage licenses exist to stop interracial marriages, and we’re going to codify what marriages are at the federal level? Not our job. Not our role,” added Donalds.
Finally, Donalds said that House Democrats inserted the term “interracial marriages” in the bill to be controversial and to “be cute.”
The bill will now go to Presiden Joe Biden's desk for signage.