Orthodox Union letter on the Respect for Marriage Act

Posted on November 17, 2022 In Press Releases

November 15, 2022 

Senator Susan Collins 

Senator Kyrsten Sinema 

Senator Rob Portman 

Senator Tammy Baldwin 

Dear Senators, 

In anticipation of the U.S. Senate’s consideration of H.R.8404 (the “Respect for  Marriage Act”), as modified by an amendment you have offered, we write to you on  behalf of the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of  America (“Orthodox Union”), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella  organization. 

In 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges,  the leadership of the Orthodox Union “reiterated(ed) the historical position of the  Jewish faith… Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship  between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable.” At the same  time, we noted “that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn  discrimination against individuals.” 

At the time, our leadership said that “in the wake of today’s ruling, we turn to the  next critical question for our community, and other traditional faith communities –  will American law continue to uphold and embody principles of religious liberty and  diversity, and will the laws implementing today’s ruling and other expansions of civil  rights for LGBT Americans contain appropriate accommodations and exemptions  for institutions and individuals who abide by religious teachings that limit their ability  to support same-sex relationships?” 

As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider H.R.8404 the leadership of the Orthodox  Union, in light of the religious principles reiterated above, cannot endorse the main  purpose of H.R.8404. However, we welcome the provisions added to this bill by  your amendment in the nature of a substitute in the Senate that appropriately  address religious liberty concerns (provisions that were absent in the version of the  bill passed by the House of Representatives).  

As amended, Section 2 of H.R.8404 recognizes that “diverse beliefs about the role  of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and  honorable religious or philosophical premises.” Section 6 of H.R.8404 provides  that “nothing in this act shall be construed to…abrogate a religious liberty… protection…available under the Constitution or Federal law” and further provides  that no religious nonprofit entity whose principal purpose is the advancement of  religion shall be required to provide services or goods associated with solemnizing or 

celebrating a same sex marriage. Section 7 of H.R.8404 provides that no  government official or agency can deny a wide array of benefits – including tax  exempt status, grants, contracts, accreditation or others – to an otherwise eligible  entity or person on the basis of that entity or person not recognizing same-sex  marriage. These provisions appropriately address the array of religious liberty  concerns raised in the context of H.R.8404 and its operative provisions. 

Moreover, we note that your recognition that religious liberty interests must be  explicitly and substantively addressed in the context of this kind of legislation is  itself an essential act in a nation devoted to the principles of diversity, tolerance and  religious freedom. 

We thank you for your work with us and other faith partners to craft these important  legislative provisions. 


Mark (Moishe) Bane Rabbi Moshe Hauer Nathan J. Diament President Executive Vice President Executive Director – Advocacy 


Read official letter here: RMA letter to Senate