Democrats in Congress are moving quickly to enact their ‘Respect for Marriage Act,’ which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied some government benefits to married, same-sex couples. Glenn says this bill may be an ‘extraordinarily bad idea,’ and Senator Mike Lee joins him to explain why. First, Senator Lee says ‘there’s not a chance in hell’ the Supreme Court would overturn gay marriage rights. So, what then is the point of this bill? In this clip, Senator Lee says the bill may give government the ability to RETALIATE against religious institutions, organizations, or charities who favor a traditional view of marriage…
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Oh. Mitt Romney's favorite senator. Mike Lee. Hello, Mike.
MIKE: Good to be with you, Glenn.
GLENN: Yeah. Can you tell me, what happened yesterday?
MIKE: Well, a lot happens in the United States. Yesterday, if you're talking about the vote on the motion to proceed to the respect of marriage act. The respect for marriage act.
GLENN: Wait. Can you tell me? I know it's a secret meeting. Can you tell me what happened with the -- because I want to get into that. Can you tell me what happened with the Harry Reid winning again? How? Or not Harry Reid. Mitch McConnell.
MIKE: Yeah, Mitch McConnell. Yeah.
Yeah, so yesterday, we got our leadership elections in the Senate, and some of the Republicans. We debated for several hours. And Mitch McConnell, we elected as the Minority Leader among Senate Republicans. This is -- he's had it for 16 years, and he was reelected yesterday.
We had a lengthy discussion about that. And some of us took a different approach. But at the end of the day, I think the vote was cast. And that's the vote that will carry.
GLENN: What do we have to do, Mike, to get people -- I mean, there's a fight in the Republican Party, of this -- you know I guess 1956 kind of you know view of how things have to be done. And what the government means. Very progressive.
And you know just very docile. And then there's a new group of people who are like, look. I mean, I don't want to go back to the 1800s or the 1700s, but we got a little thing here, that we used to called the Constitution and Bill of Rights. And we need to restore that.
Because this isn't a constitutional republic anymore.
How do we get the G.O.P. out of the way of those people?
Or is it -- is it too late for that.
MIKE: Well, first of all, the decision about whom to elect as floor leader. That doesn't preclude necessarily, our taking any particular action.
Anyway, I've long said that the leadership of the Republican Party tends one way or another to reflect where the center of gravity is among Senate Republicans. But there's something new happening.
We have more Republican senators today, than we ever have before. Who believe, or understand at their core, that there's something fundamentally wrong. We're spending way too much money, on the federal government.
And we've got to turn it around. And so we're moving forward now, with the new core group of leaders, who are pushing harder than ever. Because we don't have time to waste. We're $31 trillion in debt. We've got a federal government that requires people to work months out of every year, just to pay their federal taxes. And months more out of every year, just to pay the back door hidden expenses associate with federal regulations. The American people are demanding that we fight back harder. And you're going to see that.
GLENN: I hope so, Mike. I really -- I think you guys have -- I think the G.O.P. has one more shot. And it's in the next two years. And if you're not doing something. I don't know what's going to happen. I just don't know what's going to happen. But people are tired of it.
So, Mike, tell me about this Defense of Marriage Act. This seems like an extraordinarily bad idea.
MIKE: Yeah. So the respect for Marriage Act is something that purports to be a codification of the Supreme Court's ruling of 2015, of Obergefell v. Hodges, recognizing gay marriage.
GLENN: Okay. Hang on just a second. They put this in, because I think of Clarence Thomas and his dissent.
He kind of hinted that he would be willing to look at this again.
STU: No one joined him in that opinion.
GLENN: Yeah. I know that. That's the excuse they're using.
They want to seal this for all time.
MIKE: Right. Right. A couple of things to keep in mind. You're referring to Justice Thomas' concurring opinion, and the Dobbs decision a few months ago, which dealt with abortion, not marriage.
He's referring to a line of precedent. There's a number of lines of precedent that have evolved under the substantive due process standard in time. Perhaps they should be reviewed to figure out, whether there's a better place for them, or whether they withstand appropriate review.
It was joined by no other justice in that. And he also didn't go through what are called the stare decisis factors.
The stare decisis analysis would determine whether the Supreme Court would continue to defer to that case. Look, gay marriage is not going away. It's not.
The Supreme Court is not up doing that. I can tell you, the former appellate and Supreme Court litigator, there's not a chance in hell the Supreme Court is walking away from that.
And gay marriages that have been legal now for seven years aren't going away. So that begs the question: What's the real purpose for this?
Well, when I look at the bill, when I looked at the will is written, and what it says, and just as importantly, what it doesn't say. And how it would interact with other protections of the federal law. The federal civil rights legislation, as well as Supreme Court precedent interpreting those laws.
I saw a real risk of retaliation by the federal government against religious institutions.
GLENN: They never retaliate.
MIKE: Schools. Charitable organizations. Adoption agencies, with the religious mission purpose. That could lose their tax-exempt status, could lose access to participating in federal programs.
Lose federal status or federal benefits of one sort or another. Unless we put a protection in there, that depriving the government of that power. So I wrote an amendment to do that. I even offered to vote for the bill, as a whole. Necessary to get this bill in there. The sponsors wouldn't do it. They refused to do it.
GLENN: So that should tell you everything.
MIKE: Why would they refuse to do that? Why would they refuse protection saying you can't take away the tax-exempt status of a school or a day care or an adoption agency or whatever it is, with the religious mission on the basis of a religious belief about marriage? Why would they not do that?
It got more devious from there, Glenn. They adopted some amendment texts just in the last few days before bringing this to the floor. And claimed that their text would do essentially the same thing as my amendment.
Only, here's my problem. It wouldn't. It pays lip service to that, but it doesn't do the job.
So they have 12 Republicans to join with. All 50 Democrats. And they've survived the first threshold vote. Now, the good news here, Glenn. We've still got at least two more 60-vote threshold votes to cast on this bill. There's still time for us to convince a handful of those Republican senators, to join with Democrats, that they shouldn't be voting for this. Unless you actually have it out of government's hands, in the way that I've proposed.
I'm hoping they can see the line, between now and whenever this thing is put to bed.
GLENN: Can I ask you a question?
And I don't mean to put you in a difficult situation. But this is a -- this is sometimes described as a Mitt Romney bill. If you Google this bill, and you just add more and more -- what was it? More and more marriage bill, this is what comes up. Where did this bill start?
MIKE: Yeah. So it started in the House of Representatives. It started by a handful of House Democrats, back in July.
The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. I assume this is what you're referring to.
Chimed in and supported the recent religious freedom amendment put in place, by Senators Tillis, Collins, and Baldwin, I believe it was.
And said, that it was a maternal improvement with that language. Now, look, to be sure. The text of the bill was marginally better than it would have been without that language. But I emphasize the word marginally there. It still doesn't solve the problem.
This bill, it becomes law, will create a new risk. A new considerable, substantial risk. And that risk is not taken away. It's not adequately dealt with by this language.
We need language that actually does what they claim this one does, in private settings. They're going around touting this as this is the problem. And it doesn't solve the rob. Which should give people added reason to be very suspicious of this legislature.
GLENN: On the same topic, I am about to start a campaign to draft your attorney general to run for Mitt Romney's seat. Because I think he would win in a landslide. And based on your numbers, I think a guy with his record could win.
Now, I know you wouldn't. Because you have friends on both sides. So you wouldn't -- you wouldn't endorse anything like that. But I'm saying -- would you --
MIKE: I do. I do indeed -- I'm friends with both of them. That's an excellent point.
GLENN: Yeah. So what do you think of that idea? Of me just not connected to you?
MIKE: Yeah. So it's an idea, that has been out there. It's an idea that -- and I don't want to take anything away from your thunder here, Glenn.
GLENN: Yeah. No, no, no, no. I'm glad to hear someone is thinking that way.
How can I help them?
I don't know. I don't know what will happen? 2024 seems like a long way from here. I know it will be around in just a moment.
But speaking of marriage and respect of marriage, I am worried about one thing, Glenn. In your Relief Factor plug just a moment ago, you did an imitation for your wife that did not sound at all like your wife.
GLENN: Oh, you are sadly mistaken. You don't know her, Mike. You don't know her. Help me. Help me. I'm being held hostage.
MIKE: Perhaps in that moment, something happens to her vocal cords.
STU: Seems like you're both trying to get each other in trouble right now.
GLENN: Yeah, I know. We can talk about Mitt some more.
So one last thing, you were on our special that aired last night, The Targets of Tyranny. You leaned over to me at one point and said, this is the most frightening thing I think I've ever seen.
MIKE: Yeah. Yeah.
Look, the group of people -- the group of victims of government overreach that you assembled for that show. And for any of your listeners out there, who haven't seen it. I strongly encourage them to do it.
It's the best thing I've seen. The best encapsulation within a short period of time, of why you should be skeptical of Goth. Of why you should be especially concerned about the federal government, right now.
We saw instance after instance of good, solid, law-abiding American citizens, whose rights are being threatened, intimidated, harassed, cajoled, or otherwise beaten out of them.
And we really do have to take up this issue. It's all the more reason why, when you vote for someone for federal elected office, you need to ask them very specific questions about what they will do to dismantle the colossus, brooding omnipresence that the federal government has become. We've got to take this in hand.
There's some of the things that were -- that prompted this leadership election yesterday. We had a good discussion, even though it didn't turn out, the way that many had hoped.
And I was a supporter of delaying the election. And I supported Rick Scott. But the election happened. And we now have to rally behind our leader who was elected. But in that conversation, we had some very good discussions. This was the first time in the 12 years I've been in the Senate, there's even been a discussion like that. Since anyone has stood up. And this is one of the reasons, Glenn. The reasons that we discussed on your show, that just aired last night. This was a fantastic display. And I encourage every one of your radio listeners. And your podcast listeners to go and watch that program tonight. It will scare you. And just the same, it will give you the tools that you need, in order to know how to respond, when something like this happens to you.
GLENN: The most amazing piece of advice we got. With the end -- with the question and answers from the audience.
Most stunning advice coming from you, at least. I felt. You were like, absolutely. Please, come.
No. You don't talk to them. You have a right to remain silent. Exercise it. And the second thing, you shouldn't -- you should have the number of a good defense attorney.
I don't even know. I guess I'm friends with Alan Dershowitz. But I don't know if he will take my case. I am kind of a shady character.
But I don't even know. It's weird.
GLENN: With the right retainer, agreement, Glenn. They'll take it.
GLENN: All right. Mike Lee. Thank you so much.
Congratulations again on your astounding win.
Mike Lee. The great senator from the state of Utah.