WASHINGTON – The House passed historic legislation Thursday that would federally protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights in a major win for LGBTQ-rights advocates.
- Biden expected to sign the measure into law: Passage of the bill moves it to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.
- What is it?: The Respect for Marriage Act, passed by the Senate last week, guarantees federal recognition of any marriage between two people if it was valid in the state where they were married. It also requires states to accept the legitimacy of a valid marriage performed elsewhere but does not require any state to issue a marriage license contrary to its own law.
- Republicans supported it: It passed the Senate 61-36 in November with a dozen Republicans in support. On Thursday, dozens of Republican House members voted in support of the bill, which passed 258-169
- The bill was a response to the Roe v. Wade ruling and Clarence Thomas: Lawmakers drafted the bill following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas expressed interest in reconsidering same-sex and interracial marriage rights in a separate concurring opinion that no other justice joined.
- Republican objections: The bill makes room for religious objections, a response to Republican concerns. But Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said it doesn’t go far enough.
Couples react to bill’s passage:As Respect for Marriage Act passes, same-sex couples share tentative enthusiasm
President Joe Biden: Passage is a ‘critical step’ to ensure Americans can marry the person they love
President Joe Biden said in a statement the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act will bring peace of mind to millions in the LGBTQ community and to interracial couples.
“Congress has restored a measure of security to millions of marriages and families,” he said. “They have also provided hope and dignity to millions of young people across this country who can grow up knowing that their government will recognize and respect the families they build.”
Biden added that the fight for LGBTQ Americans and all Americans “must never stop.”
“On this day, Jill and I are thinking of the courageous couples and fiercely committed advocates who have fought for decades to secure nationwide marriage equality at the Supreme Court and in Congress,” he said.
– Rachel Looker
Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted a video response following the House passing the Respect for Marriage Act, saying it is long overdue and calling it “an historic day.”
“It’s finally in law that we will respect, defend and protect the right of every individual to marry the person they love,” she said.
– Rachel Looker
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Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, one of the first openly gay members of Congress, made an appearance on Capitol Hill after the passage of the same-sex marriage legislation.
The former Democratic congressman, who retired in 2013, has advocated for civil and LGBTQ rights and helped advance civil rights legislation using his personal story. Frank highlighted Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first openly gay senator, for her efforts pushing the legislation through the Senate and understanding the importance of the troubles same-sex marriage couples face.
“I hope people will now take this as an example of responsible legislating, not being panicked by people who have more emotion than intelligence on an issue,” he said.
– Rachel Looker
Freedom to Marry campaign:Respect for Marriage Act is a triumph for families, freedom – and American activism
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said pushing the Respect for Marriage Act across the finish line required patience and persistence. He highlighted his daughter and her wife, who he said are expecting their first child next year.
“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of many … and the dogged hard work by many of my colleagues, my grandchild will live in world that will respect and honor their mother’s marriage,” he said.
– Rachel Looker
“What a great day, isn’t it?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference after the bill passed, calling the legislation a “glorious triumph of love and freedom.”
She said Congress succeeded in standing against an urgent threat to the nations’ values.
“At last we have history making. But not only are we on the right side of history, we’re on the right side of the future – expanding freedom in America,” Pelosi said.
– Rachel Looker
The Respect for Marriage Act received bipartisan support with 39 House Republicans voting for its passage. One Republican voted present. Every Democrat representative voted to support the legislation.
The bill also received bipartisan support in the Senate receiving a dozen votes from Republicans.
– Rachel Looker
Lawmakers voted 258-169, with one member voting present, to pass the same-sex marriage bill that will federally protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights.
The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she supports the Respect for Marriage Act in memory of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first same-sex couple recognized in San Francisco and pioneers for civil rights.
“Today, we stand up to the values the vast majority of Americans hold dear – a belief in the dignity, beauty and divinity in every person in abiding respect for love so powerful that it binds two people together,” she said, standing next to a large photo of Lyon and Martin.
Pelosi said when she was first sworn into office, her first speech on the House floor fought discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.
“My final bill, as speaker the first time, one of the final bills that I signed, was the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” she added. “And now one of the final bills that I will sign in the enrollment will be this beautiful legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, and that we are passing today.”
In response to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., referencing the shooting at a Colorado LGBTQ club last month, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said while the Colorado shooting was “as wrong as could be,” it was also wrong when churches and crisis pregnancy centers were attacked after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year.
“There is no place for violence, but let’s be clear: let’s condemn all of it,” Jordan said. Of the Supreme Court, Jordan said, “Let’s do what we can to protect it. And let’s not stay on this concerted effort to intimidate the court.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the next leader of House Democrats, referenced the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and said the Respect for Marriage Act has brought those words to light.
Jeffries said the work on the legislation is in response to the conservative and “reckless” Supreme Court majority that threatens freedom.
“Respect freedom, respect liberty and justice for all,” he said.
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., the first openly gay member of color elected to the House said the legislation is a reminder of the necessity for vigilance in the fight for human rights.
“When my colleagues and I pass the Respect for Marriage Act in the House today, it will mean the world to me, my loved ones and to millions of Americans,” he said.
“We must rise to the challenge and we will prevail,” he added.
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, highlighted the “huge relief” over the news that WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was freed from a Russian prison Thursday morning, will be returning home to her wife and family.
“The U.S. Congress will vote in a bipartisan way to pass the Respect for Marriage Act enshrining marriage equality into federal law and protecting marriages just like Brittney’s,” he said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the same-sex marriage legislation “does not go far enough” to protect religious liberty.
“This bill is simply the latest installment of the Democrats’ campaign to intimidate the highest court in our land,” he said.
Jordan said Democrats want Americans to believe the Supreme Court could step in and overturn opinions like in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
Marriage ruling 5-year anniversary:Acceptance, advancement, but opposition remains
“It’s just not true,” he said, saying the Supreme Court is not poised to overturn its opinions in Obergefell or Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
Nancy Pelosi: ‘Overjoyed’ that the vote on Respect for Marriage Act is one of final bills as speaker
Nancy Pelosi, who announced last month she’d step down from her role as House speaker, celebrated the Respect for Marriage Act in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday.
“I am overjoyed that one of the final bills I will sign as speaker will be the Respect for Marriage Act: ensuring the federal government will never again stand in the way of marrying the person you love,” she wrote.
Lawmakers drafted the bill following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas expressed interest in reconsidering same-sex and interracial marriage rights in a separate concurring opinion that no other justice joined.
Pelosi took aim at Thomas in her op-ed Wednesday, saying “While his legal reasoning is twisted and unsound, we must take Justice Thomas — and the extremist movement behind him — at their word.”
What does the Respect for Marriage Act do? The bill just passed the Senate. What to know.
Some Republican lawmakers argued the bill would infringe on the rights of churches and other faith-based organizations, which could be punished for refusing to participate in or recognize gay unions if the legislation passed.
But senators added an amendment to the bill that left room for religious or conscientious objections. Bipartisan sponsors of the bill said the religious freedom language inserted in the amendment would protect churches and other faith-based entities from such infringements.
If the bill is signed into law, individuals or groups would not be legally required to provide services for a wedding ceremony or celebration if it’s against their religious beliefs. It also would not recognize polygamous unions.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the first openly gay person to serve in the Senate, said its passage would allay the concerns of same-sex and interracial couples worried their civil marriage rights and recognition could be stripped away.
“The Senate has the opportunity to put those fears to rest and give millions of people in same sex and interracial marriages the certainty, dignity and respect that they need and deserve,” she said before the vote.