Respect Marriage Act ready for President Biden’s signature

The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to safeguard marriage equality, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk. It is the first time Congress has provided federal protections for same-sex marriage.

The Senate approved the measure in a bipartisan vote of 61-36, a significant victory for the negotiators. It took months of talks after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas floated the idea of ​​overturning the decision to protect same-sex marriage.

Twelve Senate Republicans joined all the Democrats in passing the bill. Biden said he would “quickly and proudly” sign it into law once it reached his desk.

The measure enshrines federal protections for same-sex couples. Makes the Federal Government and all states recognize marriages if the couple married in a state where the union is legal. It also strengthens protections for interracial couples, ordering states to recognize marriages regardless of those persons’ “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Senate Passes Legislation Protecting Same-Sex Marriage

In addition, it repeals the Law for the Defense of Marriage (1996), which recognizes marriage as “only the legal union between a man and a woman” and refers to the word spouse as “a person of the opposite sex”

The legislation passed by both chambers also includes an amendment outlining protections for religious liberties, a last-minute addition critical to securing Republican support for the bill’s passage in the Senate.

The House passed the Respect Marriage Act in a bipartisan 267-157 vote in July, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats.

But Senate Republicans raised concerns about the lack of protection of religious liberties, prompting bipartisan talks within the House to break the deadlock and reach a deal.

The addition protects religious organizations from having to provide services that support same-sex marriage, ensures that the Federal Government does not recognize polygamous marriage, and includes conscience protections under the Constitution and federal law.

Revisiting the Supreme Court: Obergefell v. hodges

The push for a bill to protect marriage equality at the federal level began over the summer after the Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade, the nearly 50-year abortion rights decision.

In an opinion concurring with that ruling, Thomas asked the court to reconsider Obergefell vs. Hodges, the 2015 decision that enshrined same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

Thomas’ statement, and the dismissal of a landmark case, raised alarm bells among Democrats that LGBTQ rights were in jeopardy.

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