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By Douglas Sciorra

Tenney and Sempolinski are lone votes against marriage equality act from New York

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Upstate members of congress vote ‘no’ to protect religious freedom

By Andrew Harris

The bill is headed to the President’s desk which will “codify” the right to marriage for all Americans, regardless of gender, creed, race, or sexual orientation. The bottom line of the new law is to protect the right to be married, for tradition unions and same-sex/non-binary couples.

In New York the vote was a no-brainer for every member of the House of Representatives from the Empire State, except two upstate officials. Claudia Tenney, representing the 24th district, and Joe Sempolinski of the 26th both cast votes against marriage equality. They did so for the same reason: To protect religious freedom.

Sempolinski issued a statement with some context:

“First and foremost, I’m a constitutional conservative, and because of that, I believe in everyone’s right to the free exercise of religion. I  voted against the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ because I am concerned that this legislation will be used to curtail those rights to religious freedom.”

Because this was a ‘head-scratcher’ for me, I asked for an explaination from someone who is very well versed about the intersection of religion and the law. This Western New Yorker aligns with the opinions of Tenney and Sempolinski but doesn’t mince words in explaining the votes:

“By codifying same-sex unions, it gives government the power to prosecute churches who will not participate in said acts. One of the reasons why tens of thousands of new agents are needed by the IRS is in anticipation of the new ability to punish via taxation those who do not adhere to their Marxist government-as-god doctrines.”

Upstate conservative stalwart Congresswoman Elise Stefanik surprised some by voting with the Democratic majority in support of marriage equality. In a statement from her office on the vote, Stefanik suggests that the concerns of Tenney and Sempolinski are unfounded:

“Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s vote is consistent with her views on how states should respect concealed carry permits and military family spousal licensing. Just as she believes concealed carry permits should be recognized from state to state, this bill will ensure if a marriage is recognized in one state, it is recognized in another. This bill includes important provisions to uphold religious liberty and not encroach on the sincerely-held beliefs of Americans.”

The bill passed the US Senate and US House easily, President Biden has said that he will sign the bill despite his long record of voting against same-sex marriage as a member of Congress.

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