Heritage launches $1 million campaign to run anti-gay marriage bill ads during NFL and college football games
EXCLUSIVE: Conservative think tank spends more than $1 million advertising during NFL and college football Thanksgiving games in hopes of saving new bill codifying same-sex marriage from 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 Monday’s final Senate vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies the right to same-sex marriage.
Heritage and other conservatives say the bill is misleadingly named and won’t give new rights to same-sex couples and leaves believers vulnerable to lawsuits and other forms of retaliation.
“American religious freedom is under attack because of the upcoming Senate vote,” said Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts. “This legislation does not add additional benefits to same-sex couples in the United States; it is an attack that creates the basis for the disenfranchisement of people of faith. What he achieves is that he appoints radical activists in the place of Americans who cannot well believe that the faith supports anything but marriage between a man and a woman. The American people deserve all the facts.”
The group accuses Democratic lawmakers of “rushing through their extreme agenda” ahead of the new Congress next year, when the Republican Party will hold a majority in the US House of Representatives.
Heritage says the Senate’s 50 Democrats and 12 Republicans, who voted to advance the bill last week, are “pushing their way” through a bill that would “expose faith-based schools and nonprofits to lawsuits,” and worries the law could give the IRS grounds to tax exemption. exempted status of dissenting religious groups.
Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, said it would allow activists to sue dissenting religious groups to “force them to abandon their deeply held beliefs about marriage or close their doors.”
Sen. Mike Lee, D-Utahproposed an amendment to the legislation to strengthen religious freedom protections in the bill, but Democratic leadership has so far refused to allow a vote on the amendment.
“Republican senators who claim the bill protects religious freedom are misleading the public,” said Roger Severino, Heritage’s vice president for domestic policy. “Their refusal to demand Senator Lee’s amendment is proof of their disingenuousness.”
The 30-second ad will air on local broadcasts during the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day games 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 be seen during coverage of four rival college football games, including the Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers on Friday and the Indiana Hoosiers vs. Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday.
The campaign, which includes $300,000 worth of digital advertising from the group’s political action arm, Heritage Action, totals $1.3 million, making it the group’s biggest ad campaign to date.
last week, Senate cleared The Respect for Marriage Act through a key procedural hurdle in the bipartisan voting 62-37, and a handful of Republicans gave the measure enough votes to clear the filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-Daniak, said the bill is a “simple, narrowly focused but extremely important” measure, “as personal as it can be.”
Co-author Susan Collins, D-Maine, said the bill “recognizes the unique and extraordinary importance of marriage at the individual and societal level,” and she touted Bill’s freedom of religion and conscious protection.
But Lee said he voted against the bill “because the protections for religious freedom were severely anemic and largely illusory.”
“Religious Americans would be exposed to potentially devastating litigation, while the tax-exempt status of certain charities, educational institutions and nonprofits would be threatened,” Lee said, adding that his amendment would “fix these weaknesses.”
“It’s a shame it wasn’t included,” he said.
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