Guest opinion: Promoting strong values in Utah

America was built upon a foundation of individual liberty. Our freedoms were set forth in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in our Constitution, and expanded upon in the Bill of Rights. Although our freedoms range from speech to religion, they are all based on one simple principle, an ideal at the very heart of our nation – freedom of the individual.

Unfortunately, that personal freedom has come into question on one of our most sacred and personal traditions – the right to marriage. 

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Respect for Marriage Act with bi-partisan support, receiving votes from 47 House Republicans – including all four of Utah’s Representatives in the U.S. House. In a time of rampant partisanship, it’s refreshing to see policy that has strong support on both sides of the aisle, especially from conservative members of our congressional delegation. 

As a conservative, it is especially important to me that every American be afforded the protections and individual liberties offered by the freedom to marry. The Respect for Marriage Act will reaffirm all marriages and remove any political uncertainty for current and future same-sex marriages. 

This legislation is not a partisan messaging bill. In fact, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to ensure that religious freedoms are also protected in this legislation. It is a compromise that makes this bill a commonsense step forward in what should no longer be a politically contentious issue. More than 70 percent of Americans are in favor of codifying marriage protections for same-sex couples into law, including 55 percent of Republicans. I’d imagine the level of support only grows for a piece of legislation like this now that religious freedom protections are included in the bill. 

While the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision afforded same-sex couples the rights and protections that come with marriage, those protections hang in the balance with no codified federal same-sex marriage law on the books. This legislation is an easy fix to avoid the legal, financial, and emotional ramifications that would come with the Supreme Court overturning the Obergefell decision. Think of it as political insurance to make sure that loving and committed same-sex couples and their families do not fall victim to the changing political tides. 

Utah is a family-orientated state. We care for our spouses, our children, and our seniors. I have raised my own children here and want to see that they have the same opportunities as anyone else. As a father and voter who values limited government and personal freedom, I call on  Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act and thank Sen. Romney and Sen. Lee for supporting the legislation and am grateful for their work to ensure important religious liberties are protected in the bill. I also thank Sen. Lee for his careful consideration  With passage of this legislation we can show America that we stand for equal protection under the law for everyone. 

Mike Ostermiller is a practicing attorney in northern Utah.