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Exclusive: A conservative think tank is spending more than $1 million to run ads during NFL and college football games over the Thanksgiving holiday in hopes of putting a new bill to keep same-sex marriage out of the end zone in the Senate next week, at least until lawmakers add new religious freedom protections to the bill.
The Heritage Foundation’s campaign is being launched ahead of a final vote in the Senate on Monday to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify same-sex marriage rights.
Heritage and other conservatives say the bill is deceptively named and won’t grant new rights to same-sex couples and puts people of faith at risk of lawsuits and other forms of retaliation.
“This upcoming vote in the Senate puts America’s religious freedom under attack,” said Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation. “This law doesn’t add an extra benefit to same-sex couples in the United States; it’s an attack that sets the stage for taking rights away from people of faith. What it accomplishes is deputizing radical activists to target Americans who can’t do better. Faith supports anything other than a man-woman marriage. The American people deserve all the facts.”
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The group accused Democrat lawmakers of “rushing their far-left agenda” ahead of the new Congress next year, when the GOP will hold a majority in the US House of Representatives.
Heritage said the 50 Senate Democrats and 12 Republicans who voted to advance the bill last week were “sneaked” by a bill that “would expose religious schools and nonprofits to lawsuits” and expressed concern that the legislation could give the IRS a basis for tax withdrawals. – Exempt status of dissenting religious groups.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said it would allow activists to sue dissenting faith-based groups in an effort to “abandon their deeply held beliefs about marriage or force them to close their doors.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, proposed an amendment to the law to strengthen religious freedom protections in the bill, but Democratic leadership has so far refused to allow a vote on the amendment.
“Republican senators are misleading the public by claiming the bill protects religious freedom,” said Roger Severino, Heritage’s vice president of domestic policy. “Their denial of Sen. Lee’s need for correction is evidence of their insincerity.”
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The 30-second ad will air locally during NFL Thanksgiving Day matchups between the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings, the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions and the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. The ad will also appear during coverage of four rivalry college football games, including Friday’s Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers and Saturday’s Indiana Hoosiers vs. Purdue Boilermakers.
The campaign, which included a $300,000 bid by the digital ad group’s political action arm, Heritage Action, totaled $1.3 million, making it the group’s largest ad campaign to date.
Last week, the Senate cleared a key procedural hurdle in a bipartisan vote of 62-37, and a handful of Republicans voted enough to clear the filibuster on the measure.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. Said the bill was a “simple, narrowly tailored but very important” measure, “as personal as it is.”
Co-author Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the bill “recognizes the unique and extraordinary importance of marriage on both the individual and societal levels” and that she claims Religious freedom bill and conscious protection.
But Lee said he voted against the bill “because the religious freedom protections were severely anemic and largely illusory.”
“Religious Americans will be subject to potentially devastating lawsuits, while the tax-exempt status of some charities, educational institutions and nonprofits will be threatened,” Lee said, adding that his amendment “would shake up those vulnerabilities.”
“It’s a shame it wasn’t included,” he said.
Heritage launches $1M campaign to run ads against same-sex marriage bill during NFL, college football games
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