The Respect for Marriage Act (2022) originated in the United States House of Representatives as HR8404. The version of the bill that passed the House and sent to the Senate can be found here.
Numerous warnings have been issued about the HR8404 bill. Some of these warnings can be found here, here, and here. A long-time student of the anti-marriage radicals has written on the ultimate goal(s) of the anti-marriage movement.
The Senate considered the House bill following the Thanksgiving break. Several amendments were offered. At least one was passed and others rejected. The text of the amended Senate version sent to the House for consideration can be found here and compared with the House version linked above.
Once the amended Senate version became available online, I could compare it with the House version. Some of the warnings mentioned in the above linked Federalist articles were addressed by putting in protections for certain religious non-profit organizations (see Section 6b). However, for-profit businesses can be taken to court both through private litigation and/or by the United States Department of Justice. See the section SEC. 4. FULL FAITH AND CREDIT GIVEN TO MARRIAGE EQUALITY in HR8404 for further details. It’s a certainty that businesses that cater to weddings will be forced to comply or close their doors; they will be hunted (Jeremiah 16:16).
From a biblical marriage point of view, this bill is a mixed bag, with some good but mostly bad news, especially for biblical polygyny as practiced by the Fathers, Abraham and Jacob.
First, Supreme Court decisions striking down bans on interracial marriage and same-sex marriage are now codified in Federal law. Interracial marriage is a plus for biblical marriage, but same-sex marriage is forbidden by Leviticus 18/20 because sexual activity between two males is strictly prohibited.
With respect to polygamy, anti-Mormon Supreme Court decisions will be enshrined in Federal statutory law.
(b) No Federal Recognition Of Polygamous Marriages.—Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to require or authorize Federal recognition of marriages between more than 2 individuals.H.R. 8404 (as amended by US Senate), Section 7(b)
As the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed by the Respect for Marriage Act, a future Congress may repeal this anti-polygamy statute. The legislature is much more likely to follow Supreme Court decisions, though.
There are two considerations. First, the same path blazed by litigants for same-sex unions may be followed by litigants for polygamous marriages. The linked article states that three men were found to be in a polygamous marriage by a New York Court. The second consideration is that if one state recognizes a polygamous marriage as valid, the other states must recognize it. That will set up a challenge to the ban on polygamy and will head to the Supreme Court.
If the Supreme Court decides the case on the same grounds as it did for same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, then they will strike down the statute as unconstitutional. So it is possible, as the dissenting justices warned in Obergefell vs. Hodges, that banning polygamy will be found unconstitutional from cases arising in either New York or Utah.
Activist lawyers designed the legal strategy with the end goal of getting a favorable decision in Obergefell v. Hodges by first targeting the laws against sodomy. Once the Supreme Court found banning sodomy to be unconstitutional, then the door was opened to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage.
I am not a legal scholar nor do I play one on television. I do think that the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act as defining marriage between one man and one woman plus the legal bases for the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision will open the final doors to biblical polygyny.
What I don’t like about this whole situation is that to get something biblically defensible passed into law, we have to use case law enabling sinful behavior such as same-sex marriage and different forms of polygamy such as polyamory and polyandry.
Yet, my hope rests with God that He can bring forth good from evil (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).