The Heritage Foundation is spending more than $1 million to run ads against a same-sex marriage bill making its way through Congress, with plans to air the commercials during a number of NFL and college football games over the holiday weekend.
The conservative foundation is set to air the 30-second ad during at least three NFL games on Thanksgiving Day as well as two college football games scheduled on Saturday. The ads will cost a total of $1.3 million, marking the organization’s largest advertising campaign to date.
“America’s religious liberty is under attack with this impending vote in the Senate,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a statement. “The American people deserve all the facts.”
The ads come just days before the Senate is set to hold its final vote on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. Democrats have made the legislation a top priority during the current lame-duck period as the party prepares to cede control of the House to Republicans.
The legislation overcame a crucial hurdle in the Senate last week as lawmakers voted to advance the bill with a 62-37 vote, surpassing the 60-vote threshold needed to defeat a filibuster. Twelve Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in advancing the legislation, teeing it up for a final vote scheduled on Monday.
Conservative groups such as Heritage argue the bill is deceptively named, claiming the legislation would not provide increased protections for same-sex couples but instead would make religious organizations susceptible to litigation.
“This legislation does not add one additional benefit to same-sex couples in the United States; it’s an attack that sets the stage to take rights away from people of faith,” Roberts said. “What it does accomplish is deputizing radical activists to target Americans who cannot in good faith endorse anything other than a man-woman marriage.”
The Senate version of the Respect for Marriage Act provides a religious freedom amendment that would protect institutions from losing their tax-exempt status if they refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, a provision that was added after the House passed the legislation earlier this summer.
That amendment comes as a result of bipartisan negotiations between Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to ensure “this legislation fully respects and protects Americans’ religious liberties and diverse beliefs, while leaving intact the core mission of the legislation to protect marriage equality.”
If the bill passes the Senate on Monday, it will then head back to the House, which must vote to approve the religious freedom amendment before it heads to President Joe Biden for approval.