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House Passes Bill to Protect Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages

Government

Celebrations outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in on June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S. | Image by Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press

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The House of Representatives passed a bill to establish federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage on Tuesday with a 267-157 vote, with votes in favor from all Democrats and 47 Republicans.

The legislation, called the Respect for Marriage Act, would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. The 1996 law has essentially already been overridden by Obama-era Supreme Court rulings, including the 2015 case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which established the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

House Democrats pushed for a vote on codifying same-sex marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the subsequent concurring opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas that previous rulings, such as Obergefell, be reconsidered by the Court.

Thomas, who is in an interracial marriage, further indicated that cases such as Loving v. Virginia, which ruled that state laws barring interracial marriages were unconstitutional in 1967, may also be reversed, allowing the states to make their own laws on the matter as with abortion.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in the case to overturn Roe, writing that the “decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right.”

Still, House Democrats feared that Thomas’ opinion foreshadows the future reversal of the cases mentioned in his concurring opinion.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said on the House floor that “millions of LGBTQ families … are worried about the Supreme Court’s intention to rip away more freedoms.”

The bill attempts to get ahead of potential future Supreme Court rulings by mandating that states must recognize legal marriages from other states, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. This would mean that same-sex and interracial unions would remain valid across the U.S., even if some states were to ban them following an overturn of the related Supreme Court precedent.

On the other hand, House Republicans who voted against the legislation insist that the Supreme Court was only focused on abortion access in June when it struck down the Roe v. Wade ruling and that other rights are not threatened.

Most who rose to speak against the legislation on the House floor did not address the subject of same-sex or interracial marriage but rather the introduction of the bill itself.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) asserted that the legislation’s purpose was to create content for Democrats’ ads during the election cycle, calling it a “superfluous exercise” and “completely unnecessary.”

“We are here for a political charade, we are here for political messaging,” echoed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Some of the Republican “yes” votes included Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the House Republican Conference chairwoman, and Tom Emmer (R-MN), the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) of Texas’ 23rd Congressional District was the only conservative lawmaker from the Lone Star State to support the marriage bill.

The Respect for Marriage Act must still pass the Senate, where it is uncertain if the bill will garner enough support or even be voted on before the August recess. Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to pass the legislation.

Some Republican senators have said they intend to support the legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the Senate. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggested he would vote “yes.”

“Even though I feel the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary, should it come before the Senate, I see no reason to oppose it,” Sen. Johnson said.

The reignited debate around same-sex marriage comes as polls show the highest ever support for same-sex marriage among the general public. A Gallup poll released last month showed that 71% of Americans support same-sex unions, topping the previous high of 70% in 2021.

When Gallup first polled about same-sex marriage in 1996, barely above a quarter of the public (27%) supported legalizing such unions. It was not until 2011 that a Gallup poll showed more than 50% support for same-sex marriage.    

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Bobby
Bobby
2 months ago

perverts and mongrels

caseyp
caseyp
2 months ago

Another huge waste of time and taxpayer money by the Democrats. A bill is not needed to protect same s e x and interracial marriages. Few people care about same s e x and interracial marriages have been going on since at least the late 50s. Remember Betty and Barney Hill who claimed they were taken aboard an alien UFO in 1961 and Sammy Davis Junior marrying May Britt in 1960? This country is going down fast and that bill is what Democrats are spending their time on?

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