A new poll commissioned by the Heritage Foundation found most voters in five surveyed states oppose a bill critics contend threatens religious liberty, the Respect for Marriage Act, which the Senate will consider for final passage the week after Thanksgiving.
Most of the voters in the five states—Indiana, West Virginia, Utah, Wyoming, and Iowa—are Republican and/or conservative. Five Republican senators from those states were among a dozen GOP upper chamber lawmakers who voted on Nov. 16 with all 50 Democratic senators to move the proposal forward.
The five were Sen. Todd Young, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Sen. Mitt Romney, Sen. Cynthia Lummis, and Sen. Joni Ernst, respectively. Thirty seven other Republican senators voted against moving the bill forward in the legislative process.
Only 41 percent of the likely voters interviewed in the five states in the Heritage Foundation survey support the Respect for Marriage Act, while 47 percent said they oppose the proposal.
Among respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, 70 percent oppose the proposal. Among those who identified as conservatives, 73 percent said they oppose the bill.
But when all of those being interviewed were given additional information describing the claims of critics, support for the proposal dropped and opposition increased significantly.
“When informed that this bill would encourage lawsuits against religious organizations for not participating in gay marriages, 53 percent of respondents said this would make them less likely to support the bill, including 46 percent who said it made them much less likely to support,” OnMessage, Inc. reported in a summary of the survey’s data.
When told the proposal could result in faith-based adoption agencies losing their tax-exempt status and forced to close for refusing to participate in adoptions by same-sex couples, 52 percent of those surveyed said they would oppose the bill.
Virtually identical percentages expressed opposition when told the bill could weaponize the IRS against faith-based institutions, including schools, and threaten them with the loss of their tax exempt status.
Spokesmen for the five senators could not be reached for comment.
Among those critical of the proposal, which codifies in federal law legal protections for same-sex marriage, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered an amendment he said would remedy a serious flaw in the proposal that subjects opponents of such union to costly litigation.
“Religious Americans will be subject to potentially ruinous litigation, while the tax-exempt status of certain charitable organizations, educational institutions, and nonprofits will be threatened. My amendment would have shored up these vulnerabilities. It is a shame it wasn’t included,” Lee said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the bill’s proponents, led by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), refused to allow a floor vote on Lee’s amendment.
Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts told The Epoch Times the opposition to amending the proposal is a key factor in the survey results.
“The everyday American has too few advocates for their interests in DC, a fact highlighted today by the results of this latest poll. Perhaps unsurprisingly, voters’ opinions of the Respect for Marriage Act in Indiana, Iowa, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming is not what is being reported,” Roberts said.
“The hostility towards even having the conversation about strengthening the religious liberty provision has made conservatives really suspect. Heritage will fight for Americans of all religious backgrounds who are sick and tired of business as usual in DC,” he said.
The Heritage Foundation survey, which was conducted by the Alexandria, Virginia-based OnMessage Inc. opinion research firm, interviewed 400 likely voters in each of the five states. The survey was conducted Nov. 14-15 and has an overall margin of error of 2.19 percent and 4.90 percent for each individual state.
Proponents of the Respect for Marriage Act have predicted the proposal will be easily approved for final passage, but unlike the Nov. 16 vote that required at least yes votes, only a simple majority will be required to approve or reject next week.
That means it is still possible the proposal will not become law. Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action for America told The Epoch Times the dozen Republicans who voted with Democrats previously may not next week.
“Despite the mainstream media helping the Left advocate for the deceptively named Respect for Marriage Act, public opinion polling shows that this bill is deeply unpopular with the conservative base, particularly in Utah, Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, and West Virginia. Senators from these states should carefully consider this before they cast their votes on final passage.
“Especially during a lame-duck session, senators cannot forget that their primary responsibility is to represent the values and opinions of their constituents. Given the bill’s lack of adequate support and protections for religious institutions, it’s not too late for senators to stand up for their constituents and oppose the bill’s final passage.”