Openly LGBTQ members of Congress celebrated the historic passage of the Respect Marriage Act Thursday, hailing the move to enshrine same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law as a triumph of equality and acknowledging that much remains to be done. to do.
“Voting to pass the Respect for Marriage Act today is one of the proudest votes I have ever cast,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones (DN.Y.) wrote Thursday on Twitter. “I feel humble. I feel honored. And I’m hopeful, as the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues.”
“Being gay is normal. Gay friends, gay family members, and gay marriages are normal,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), one of two openly LGBTQ senators, he tweeted on thursday after the House vote. “Our Respect for Marriage Act now heads to the president’s desk, ensuring that same-sex married couples enjoy the same protections as all other married couples. It’s a great day in America.”
The Respect Marriage Act, which President Biden has vowed to enact “quickly,” will officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defines marriage for federal purposes as between one man and one woman, and requires all states to legally recognize same-sex and interracial unions.
The bill cleared its final hurdle in Congress on Thursday, past the house in a vote of 258-169. House members approved an earlier version of the measure in July, but needed to pass new religious freedom protections added by Senate Republicans.
“As someone who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, I never expected to be able to live as myself,” Rep. Chris Pappas (DN.H.) told Changing America in a phone call Thursday. “This is an extraordinary day and an important moment to correct an injustice of the past. I think it should be a sign to all Americans that they see you, they respect you, and you should be able to be yourself.”
“After all, we are the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, and people take their personal liberties very seriously,” Pappas said. “But we are also a state where people respect their neighbors and accept people’s differences.”
Same-sex marriages were legalized by state supreme court decisions beginning in 2004 in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa. In 2009, New Hampshire and Vermont became the first states to legalize same-sex marriages through through their legislatures. And in 2015, the Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges enshrined marriage equality as a federal right.
LGBTQ lawmakers acknowledged, however, that the Respect for Marriage Act doesn’t do much and more action is needed to ensure equal rights for LGBTQ Americans and prevent the Supreme Court from restarting hard-won battles.
“We need to build on this momentum and work toward full equality for LGBTQ+ people in all areas of life, including passage of the Equality Act,” Rep. David Cicilline (DR.I.) said in a statement Thursday, referring to House-passed Bill to expand the definition of discrimination in existing federal civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“As the first elected openly gay member of color in history, the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act means a lot to me, my loved ones, and millions of Americans,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-D) said Thursday. Calif.) . “However, we cannot rest: the need for this legislation in response to the extreme action of the Supreme Court is a clear call to our vigilance in the fight for human rights.”
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) at a cheep before Thursday’s vote he celebrated the landmark nature of the bill, but expressed some disappointment that the right of same-sex couples to marry was something that needed to be legislated.
“I can’t believe we have to do that in 2022, but here we are,” he wrote. “I will vote for my family and families like ours to be recognized by law in every state, no matter what happens in court.”