The House of Representatives passed the Respect for Marriage Act on Thursday, which would require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal, but doesn’t go as far as some Democrats would like.
The bill was approved by a 258-169 vote after the Senate passed it 61-36 last week. The legislation now goes to the White House for President Biden’s signature. Despite warnings from Republicans in both houses that the bill doesn’t do enough to protect religious freedom, 39 Republicans voted for the bill.
Supporters of the bill hailed it as a safety net should the Supreme Court overturn a ruling that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.
“This legislation is the latest step in House Democrats’ fight to achieve full equality for LGBTQ Americans and to create a more perfect union that our children and their children … all our children deserve,” said outgoing Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., said Thursday from the House.
“I find it sad that as we prepare to wrap up the 117th Congress, we are on the verge of a great bipartisan moral victory in protecting the basic rights of all Americans, providing stability and confidence to the millions who rely on their constitutional right to marry. LGBTQ and interracial families,” added House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, DN.Y.
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The Respect for Marriage Act was passed by Democrats in the Senate after the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Dobbs issued the same opinion in Jackson v. Women’s Health Organization, which overruled Roe and Wade. Thomas said that in light of the decision to allow states to make abortion decisions, the court would also “review all of this court’s significant due process precedents,” including Obergefell v. Hodges, which took same-sex marriage out of the hands of the states and said it was a right guaranteed by the Constitution.
Under the Respect for Marriage Act, the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages in states where it is legal, and if the Supreme Court overturns Loving v. Virginia on the issue, it would grant similar protections to interracial couples. contains, prohibits these states. from banning these marriages.
Republicans said the bill was an unnecessary overreach that addressed a threat that didn’t exist.
“Democrats want Americans to believe they can overturn the Supreme Court’s Obergefell and Loving decisions at any time,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, from the House floor.
Jordan added that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs opinion that made clear that the decision should not be misconstrued or mischaracterized to cast doubt on non-abortion precedents. .
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The bill was the result of months of bipartisan negotiations in the Senate, and was introduced despite calls from some progressives to continue the measure. The bill does not go so far as to require states to allow same-sex marriage, which has disappointed some progressives.
While the bill was in the Senate, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., wrote an amendment to add religious freedom protections that the Senate approved. But some Republicans and conservative groups say the amendment doesn’t do enough to protect people who fear lawsuits or government retaliation for their belief in traditional marriage.
Biden warned of “heavy-handed” ESG policies affecting companies and families.
“While the conflict between same-sex marriage and religious freedom is not clear to many, legal scholars have long recognized that without robust protections, federal recognition of same-sex marriage is a legal risk. Various federal statutes and their interpretation by the Supreme Court against the backdrop of being held — harming those who do not accept same-sex marriage for reasons based on sincere religious or moral convictions,” Sen. Mike Lee, R.-Utah, wrote in an op-ed last week.
Lee also wrote an amendment providing stronger protections for religious freedom, but it was ultimately rejected.
Tim Schultz, president of the 1st Amendment Partnership, said the RMA’s passage was driven by “political realism” and that both parties would have to give up some ground to make the language law. “I think it’s actually a big political deal,” Schultz added.
“I don’t think legally the RMA is that big. And I think that’s why people are hyperventilating for no reason. But I think politically, it’s a very big deal. Because I think it shows that there is a specific center that wants to do something about this,” Schultz said.