US House of Representatives Passes LGBTQ Marriage Protections | LGBTQ News

The United States House of Representatives once again voted to pass the Respect Marriage Act, a bill that would enshrine federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages.

An earlier version of the bill first passed the House in July in a surprise bipartisan vote that rallied 47 Republicans with a majority Democrat for an overall vote of 267 to 157.

Thursday’s vote also had bipartisan support. The Respect Marriage Act passed 258 to 169, with 39 Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic front.

The bill now heads to Democratic President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law. The vote comes as Democrats will lose their majority in the House, following the November midterm elections.

The Respect Marriage Act is a landmark piece of legislation that would prevent states from denying “out-of-state marriages based on sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” It also “repeals and supersedes” existing federal law that defines marriage between people of the opposite sex.

Such laws are no longer enforceable, following Supreme Court decisions like 2015’s Obergefell v Hodges, which guaranteed the right of same-sex couples to marry.

But House Democrats advanced the Respect for Marriage Act last summer in the wake of the controversial Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. That decision struck down nearly half a century of judicial precedents denying the federal right to abortion in the US, giving states powers to regulate access to reproductive rights.

An opinion in that case written by Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the Supreme Court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” listing the Obergefell decision among them.

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New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is slated to take the top Democratic position in the House in January, took aim at Justice Thomas and the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in his remarks ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Citing the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” – Jeffries noted that that ideal was not applied to all equally throughout history.

“It certainly didn’t apply to the LGBTQ community. But through a process of constitutional amendment, ratification, court decision, and legislation, those words have come more and more to life as we move toward a more perfect union,” Jeffries said.

“That is the work that is being done today with the Respect Marriage Act, particularly due to a radical, right-wing, reckless and regressive Supreme Court majority that threatens freedom and marriage equality.”

Meanwhile, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan dismissed Democratic concerns that Supreme Court precedents like Obergefell and Loving v Virginia, which upheld interracial marriage in 1967, could be overturned.

“Democrats have averted this non-existent threat, building on a line in Judge Thomas’ agreement in Dobbs. And they are deliberately misrepresenting or misrepresenting what Judge Thomas wrote,” he told the House.

House Republicans also took the podium to denounce the Respect Marriage Act as an attack on religious liberty. Virginia Rep. Bob Good said he stood “in strong opposition” to the bill, calling it disrespectful.

“The fact is that traditional biblical marriage is the foundation of a strong society and a strong culture. I’ll say it one more time: almost everything that ails our society is a failure to follow God’s design for marriage, morality and family,” Good said.

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He warned that the bill would “ensure that marriage laws in the most liberal state, regardless of how radical they may become in the future (think polygamy, bestiality, child marriage, or whatever), must be legally recognized.” in all states.”

The Respect for Marriage Law explicitly prohibits polygamy. It also includes a number of Republican amendments to recognize and protect religious freedom, including language to ensure that your content is not used to attack or deny government benefits, such as tax-exempt status, based on religious beliefs.

After adding safeguards to ensure that religious organizations could not be sued under their language, the Respect for Marriage Act passed the US Senate with bipartisan support in November, by a vote of 61 to 36.

    Senators speak at press conference
Senator Tammy Baldwin speaks after the bipartisan passage of the Respect Marriage Act in the Senate on November 29, 2022 [Sarah Silbiger/Reuters]

Several prominent religious organizations have also indicated their support for the bill, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon church.

In November, he issued a press release saying the church was “grateful for the continued efforts of those working to ensure that the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious liberty protections while upholding the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.” .

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, who sponsored the Respect Marriage Act, underscored this point Thursday, telling the House that, “contrary to expressed fears about religious liberty, nearly all church groups in the The United States has endorsed this bill.”

The Respect for Marriage Law has a limited mandate. It would not codify the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. If the Supreme Court ever reversed its decisions allowing same-sex and interracial marriage, the bill would not prevent states from blocking such unions.

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But the law would repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which limited the definition of marriage to “between a man and a woman” for purposes of federal recognition and benefits. It also prohibits states from denying the validity of marriages entered into in other states based on factors such as race, gender, and ethnicity.

In her remarks before Thursday’s vote, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the Respect Marriage Act as a bulwark against “right-wing extremists.”

“Since the monstrous Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, right-wing forces have set their sights on this basic personal freedom,” Pelosi said, citing her work on marriage equality.

“Today, we will put marriage equality into federal law now and for generations.”

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a Colorado website designer seeking an exemption from the state’s anti-discrimination law, arguing that she would otherwise be forced to provide services for married couples. of the same sex, in violation of their religious freedom. .